President's State of the University Address 2018
There were gasps of surprise, loud cheers and enthusiastic applause as SMU’s fourth President, Professor Arnoud De Meyer rode his bicycle into the SMU Hall for his final President’s State of the University Address, on 28 September 2018. He parked his bike, took off his helmet, bounded up onto the stage and, standing at the lectern, toyed with audience: “Where’s my script? It’s meant to be here!” he jokingly complained. “Ah, there it is,” he said, as an aerial drone buzzed across from the back of the hall to deliver his notes.
It was great entertainment which the senior leaders, faculty members, staff and students in the audience enjoyed enormously; but it also made a point. “You are probably wondering if this is going to become commonplace, drones whizzing around delivering speeches and SMU people making their way across campus on bicycles. Well, with the growth and expansion of the SMU campus, it might well be a good idea! The SMU campus was smaller eight years ago when I had the first opportunity to address many of you at my inaugural address,” he explained, alluding to the addition of the School of Law building, SMU Labs and optimisation of space across the campus in recent years, as well as the upcoming Tahir Foundation Connexion.
He set the tone for his address by going on to praise the strong sense of community and commitment that has inspired him as President. “What struck me, in the first few days of meeting and interacting with SMU faculty, staff and students, was their warmth, generosity, energy and professionalism. I recall making a commitment to stay connected with the ground, and to learn from each and everyone in the SMU family. That indeed was one of the best decisions I had made because since then, I have learnt so much from so many in the SMU community, including faculty, staff, alumni, students and their parents,” he said appreciatively.
Prof De Meyer went on to review the University’s progress towards Vision 2025, the bold vision for the University which he first shared in 2014. He discussed in turn what has been achieved to reach the goals he set for SMU as a “Game Changer in Education”, as a “Catalyst in Research”, “Global Exemplar” and “Professionalism of the Organisation”. Click the link to read a summary of his speech or the full President’s State of the University Address 2018.
Rounding up his speech, Prof De Meyer said, “All that I have shared with you are initiatives and achievements made possible through your dynamism, passion and capacity to give purpose, to make meaningful impact and imagine a better SMU. I urge you to stay curious, agile and innovative.”
His presentation ended with a short video collage of photos and clips from hundreds of thousands taken over the past eight years of Prof De Meyer taking part and interacting with students, faculty and staff in social and sporting events, thought leadership events, key celebrations and community service activities. His gift for connecting with members of the SMU community at every level was seen clearly on the screen and felt warmly by everyone in the hall.
“He is a real people person,” commented Associate Professor of Information Systems (Practice) Tan Hwee Pink after the event. “I think that makes a difference in the way students, faculty and staff perceive him.” His colleague, Associate Professor of Information Systems (Practice) Michelle Cheong added, “I think the President’s key message was that we are a University that will continue to face challenges in terms of getting the right formula to train the next generation of leaders, getting international recognition in terms of research, teaching and practice. But with the contributions from everyone from every department, we can achieve what we set out to do, and grow as a tightly-bonded community.”
Read a summary and the script of the President’s State of the University Address 2018
Last updated on 11 Oct 2018.