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Speech by NTU President Prof Subra Suresh at the 30 years of Momentum, 30 Perspectives - Exhibition and Book Launch

Welcome address by

Professor Subra Suresh

President, Nanyang Technological University


30 years of Momentum, 30 Perspectives – Exhibition and Book Launch


9 December 2021 (Thursday)

Nanyang Auditorium


Minister for Education


NTU Board Chair, and Members of the NTU Board of Trustees,

Distinguished Guests,

Faculty, Staff and Students,


Good afternoon. I am delighted to welcome you to the “Thirty Years Of Momentum, 30 Perspectives” exhibition and book launch commemorating NTU’s 30th anniversary.

As we mark 30 years as Nanyang Technological University, we have much to celebrate – three decades of sparkling ideas, exceeding expectations, and creating impactful innovation.

NTU has distinguished itself as a world-class university in a relatively short span of time. It has earned its place among the top global universities and more than 10 NTU academic programmes are now recognised by independent global entities as being among the top ten in the world. Over the past few years, independent international metrics have also chosen four NTU academic subjects as the best in the world. This rapid ascent demonstrates the University’s global influence in advancing knowledge, talent pool and cutting-edge technologies and in serving local, regional and global communities.

NTU’s achievements have been the result of the hard work and sacrifice of many people. Its history and heritage date back to the mid-1950s when Mr. Tan Lark Sye generously pledged a personal donation of $5 million to support the dreams of the local community for higher education for students from the Chinese diaspora. His act of philanthropy inspired many others from all walks of life and more philanthropic support, large and small, poured in. Nanyang University, or Nantah, was established on this lush and sprawling land that was later also home to Nanyang Technological Institute, and finally, to NTU when it was officially inaugurated in July 1991.

NTU is built on the collective power of people. This is also what embodies the OneNTU spirit in our five-year Strategic Plan NTU 2025. In the early weeks of the global pandemic last year, the NTU community exhibited the same spirit of collaboration, common purpose and generosity to help those in need. The NTU Priorities Fund was established in April 2020 to support students who were in urgent need of help during the pandemic. Over 3,200 members of the NTU community came forward to support the Fund that serves current and future students and other members of the OneNTU community. As of November 2021, this fund has grown to almost S$9 million.

It proves that great, seemingly impossible things can be done when everyone comes together to achieve a common goal. It shows that universities have an important role in societies. NTU has achieved a spectacular rise from its origins as a technical university serving Singapore’s manpower needs to becoming a leading global research and education powerhouse helping to solve some of the world’s most challenging problems. The University’s ground-breaking innovations over the years have had deep positive impact on humanity. For example, in this ongoing battle against Covid-19 NTU’s researchers have made significant contributions. Our scientists have developed innovative solutions such as autonomous disinfection robots, COVID-19 rapid test kits and a breathalyser device that delivers results in two minutes, a smart mask, novel antimicrobial coatings, as well as fundamental research on the coronavirus to find new drug targets for treatment and vaccine development.

This pioneering spirt has propelled NTU’s 30 years of momentum and we are in a good place. This is just the beginning. The University’s 5-year strategic plan, NTU 2025, announced earlier this year in January details NTU’s ambitious plans to tackle the world’s biggest problems, from climate change to ageing societies. I am pleased to share that we are well on our way in delivering on the goals of NTU 2025.

The NTU Sustainability Manifesto, which was released in October, will guide our continued efforts over the next 15 years to solidify NTU as a world leader in sustainability. The Manifesto includes plans to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035, with 50 per cent reduction in gross emissions compared to the baseline year of 2019.

As part of NTU 2025, we also introduced a major upgrade to your undergraduate educational experience this year through the new Interdisciplinary Common Core Curriculum and internship opportunities for all undergraduate students starting this year.

Today’s launch of NTU’s anniversary “Thirty Years Of Momentum, 30 Perspectives” exhibition and commemorative book is dedicated to all those who have contributed generously and tirelessly to the University. It shares insights and reflections of individuals who have been a part of NTU’s transformative journey and highlights the achievements of the OneNTU Community.

In September, we began our anniversary celebrations with the launch of a digital time capsule that will be opened 20 years from now at NTU’s Golden Jubilee. We invited Minister Chan Chun Sing to compose an open letter in a video message to the Class of 2041. This message will be placed in the capsule today. We are pleased that he will help us seal this memory bank later in this ceremony.

The time capsule holds a collection of ideas and precious memories that represent our lives and times.  It will serve as an inspiration to future generations of NTU students.

Last Saturday, at the annual NTU Alumni Homecoming, I was delighted to join my predecessors, three former Presidents of NTU, Professors Cham Tao Soon, Su Guaning and Bertil Andersson, in a panel discussion. It was a unique and historic occasion when all four NTU Presidents were on the same stage to share our respective NTU journeys. It traced the evolution of NTU and how we have built on our predecessor’s momentum to take NTU to where it is today. This panel discussion will form part of the digital time capsule.

I am heartened that so many members of the OneNTU community participated and contributed their own achievements, milestones and memories of their time here at NTU. The artefacts of the digital time capsule are also featured at the exhibition at Nanyang Auditorium, and I encourage you to pay a visit.

I would like to express my profound gratitude to all contributors to the 30th Anniversary book and exhibition, contributors to the digital time capsule, as well as faculty, staff, and students who gave their time and support to bring to fruition this year-long effort.

I would also like thank members of the NTU 30th Anniversary Commemorative Committee led by Chair Professor Kwok Kian Woon, the Exhibition Sub-Committee led by Emeritus Professor Kam Chan Hin, Dr Vivien Chiong, Chief Communication Officer, and Ms Eileen Tan, Head of Publications, for their editorial input and advice.

My very special note of thanks also goes to Ms Faith, and the staff who helped her, for their research and project management for the book, and for curating this exhibition, and to Mr Chua Buck Cheng and the NTU staff from the Events Office for planning and organising this event.

Thank you.