In 1998, Mr S. R. Nathan, Founding Director of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS) and the sixth President of Singapore, launched IDSS’ first graduate education programme, the MSc (Strategic Studies). In 2007, IDSS was inaugurated as the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), and by then, two new masters programmes were introduced – the MSc (International Relations) in 2002, and the MSc (International Political Economy) in 2004. In 2008, the School introduced a third degree programme, the MSc (Asian Studies).
Professor Joseph Liow (RSIS/1999), former Dean of RSIS and current Dean of College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CoHASS) at NTU Singapore, was part of the promising and pioneering batch of the first MSc programme at IDSS. “RSIS, and its precursor IDSS, was where I started out as a research assistant and a Masters student,” quipped Prof Liow. “The first director of IDSS, Mr S. R. Nathan, gave me a break by taking the risk of hiring me and then giving me a scholarship to study at IDSS and later also in London. For more than 20 years, RSIS was a second home to me.”
Early this year, Prof Liow – who is also the Tan Kah Kee Chair in Comparative and International Politics at NTU – and his sister, Ruth Liow, made a generous gift to establish the Liow Keng Teck and Dorothy Liow Gold Medal in honour of their parents. The Gold Medal supports exceptional RSIS masters candidates undertaking the MSc (International Relations) programme. Commencement of the award will be in AY2021/22.
“IDSS was where I was given numerous opportunities to develop my career, and I will always be grateful for the support that its leadership has always given me. It also has a fantastic MSc programme, which I benefited from, both as a student and then as a faculty. So, it is with great pride and satisfaction that I can give back to it in this manner as well.”
Professor Ralf Emmers, Dean of RSIS shared his appreciation of Prof Liow’s gift: “RSIS is very grateful to Prof Liow for his donation of the Liow Keng Teck and Dorothy Liow Gold Medal for the most outstanding graduating student for the MSc (International Relations). Through his achievements and contributions since being part of RSIS’ pioneer group of graduates, Prof Liow has been a truly exceptional role model for our alumni worldwide. His generous gift will enable more outstanding students to further their education and give back to society.”
On naming the Gold Medal, Prof Liow fondly recalls the huge impact his parents made on his life. “My parents never gave up on me! They always emphasised the importance of a good education and of understanding the world around me. So, naming this medal after them is my way of remembering them and recognising the values they imparted to me.”
The RSIS alumni family has grown substantially from a small pioneer group of Singaporeans in 1999 to 2,424 alumni from more than 70 countries in 2021. This is an exceptional group of graduates with diverse backgrounds and professions, brought together by strong friendships and a desire to ponder the improbable and make a difference to society.
To his fellow alumni, Prof Liow shares: “You all have had the privilege to experience the very best RSIS has to offer you, just as RSIS was very privileged to have you all as part of the family. I hope that with the knowledge and tools the School has equipped you with, you have all gone forth to make the world a better place!”