President's State of the University Address 2022

Sustainable Growth

On Friday 9 September, SMU President Professor Lily Kong gave her fourth President’s State of the University Address. After having had to hold this annual event in hybrid format for the last two years, the University was once again able to host over 600 faculty, staff, students and guests in SMU Hall.


Prof Kong commented that during the preceding Academic Year, the University had marked major milestones in the growth and development of SMU education and research, and cited a few examples. These include the launch of its seventh and eighth Schools: the College of Integrative Studies (CIS) and the College of Graduate Research Studies (CGRS). CIS is the next step in SMU’s effort to nurture a generation of graduates capable of navigating cross-disciplinary boundaries and who can respond nimbly to industry and societal needs; while CGRS aims to develop world-class thought leaders equipped to undertake cutting-edge research across disciplines, bringing about significant impact in academia, business, government and society.

Another example of a milestone for SMU was establishing the SMU-A*STAR Joint Lab in Social and Human-Centred Computing. The Joint Lab will bring together researchers from SMU and A*STAR to form complementary teams to pursue ambitious projects in areas of strategic importance, with special attention to integrative research and scholarship which Prof Kong hopes becomes a hallmark of SMU

In its engagement activities as a City University, SMU has continued to build City Perspectives, an omnichannel hub that showcases key work by SMU faculty that support the University’s Strategic Priorities. SMU also had significant presence at the World Cities Summit. The University  showcased its research and entrepreneurial initiatives on sustainability at its exhibition booth which attracted over 300 visitors. Prof Kong also participated in a panel discussion and was  appointed as the chair on one of two World Cities Summit Knowledge Councils.

Prof Kong then provided updates on developments in the undergraduate curriculum; shared positive results from internal measurement of the quality of instruction as well as from external measurement of the quantity and quality of research published by SMU.


The next three sections of her Address took a closer look at the University’s progress and plans in the three strategic priorities in SMU2025.

1. Growth in Asia

  • Transformative Education – including forging new collaborations with leading universities in Asia; entering new markets with SMU Academy; and resuming of overseas immersion trips
  • Cutting Edge Research – in which Prof Kong cited examples by faculty in CIS, School of Social Sciences and Yong Pung How School of Law
  • Engaged City University – with the upcoming launch of SMU’s first Overseas Centre, in Jakarta

2. Digital Transformation

  • Transformative Education – with new programmes from SMU Academy and SMU ExD developed in collaboration with digital education partners; new undergraduate and postgraduate programmes; and the launch of the new Digital Learning Strategy
  • Cutting Edge Research – including significant projects by faculty in SOA, SCIS and LKCSB
  • Engaged City University – citing an example of SOA’s thought leadership

3. Sustainable Living

Prof Kong later shared with the University’s internal and external stakeholders the SMU Sustainability Blueprint and its multimedia resources in the form a video, a flipbook, and the SMU Sustainability website. The Sustainability Blueprint shows how everyone can play an important role and pursue objectives that contribute to a more sustainable world. This is part of a purposeful journey for all members of the One SMU community.

A video of the event, as well as a copy of the script with slides are available to SMU faculty, students and staff on the SMU President's SharePoint.

Comments from members of the audience

It was nice to realize that SMU had not only managed the pandemic challenges well but had also done so with empathy for all staff involved. In the same vein, it was good to see that employee engagement is reaching new highs.
Lieven Demeester, Associate Provost (Teaching & Learning Innovation); Assoc Professor of Operations Management (Practice), Lee Kong Chian School of Business

For me, the most significant part of the Address was the Q&A segment, when Lily shared some personal stories in her answers. They help to cast light on a side we/I never knew about her.
Goh Wee Sen, Senior Associate Director (Web & Media Technologies), Integrated Information Technology Services

I think that one of the President’s key messages was that by being united as OneSMU, SMU has been and will continue to positively impact society and build an excellent reputation for the University locally and globally through sustainable growth via its various plans and initiatives in sustainability, research, digitalisation and teaching.
Clarabelle Chan, Undergraduate, School of Economics; Community Service Project Leader

It was an informative and lively session. Prof. Kong is an excellent speaker – inspiring, engaging and humorous. There was also a lot of energy and enthusiasms among the audience. Overall, it was a very successful event.
Gary Pan, Professor of Accounting (Education), School of Accountancy

It was welcoming to be back at the President’s State of the University address in-person.  The atmosphere was one of positivity, enthusiasm and determination as we progress towards SMU Vision 2025, together, as OneSMU. Regardless of who we are, we can contribute towards the success of SMU in our own ways.
Ivan Low, Head, Marketing and Outreach (Postgraduate Programmes), Office of Admissions and Financial Assistance

One of the memorable events was the announcement that SMU has set up an overseas centre in Jakarta, with more overseas centres in the region in the pipeline.  It paints a picture of a university that is interested in the region around us, and gives the notion of `city’ university a new breadth and depth in that we’re not just a university in the city, but also a university that is interested in the cities around us.
Hady Lauw, Associate Professor of Computer Science, School of Computing and Information Systems

We have done well and achieved what we set to do as OneSMU. Our garden has grown over the years and we are starting to see the fruits of our labours. We should take time to appreciate and smell the flowers but at the same time keep our focus on our goals.
Kevin Koh, Head, SMU-X

Prof Kong’s inspirational and engaging speech made me feel immensely proud and grateful to be a part of SMU. She instilled optimism and a sense of purpose by sharing her bold and deeply thoughtful vision and roadmap, coupled with very impressive progress and achievements of SMU toward our strategic priorities in SMU2025. The atmosphere during and after the Address was very positive.
Andree Hartanto, Assistant Professor of Psychology (Education), School of Social Sciences

The most significant point was about the well-being of our community, especially in sharing the programmes and interventions to support better mental well-being and building resilience for all. I feel that we are moving towards a more caring University, one that strives to be inclusive in thought and practice.
Lim Wensi, Centre Manager, Centre For Research On Successful Ageing, School of Social Sciences

My team and I felt seen when Prof Lily showed the highlights of student life activities! We felt valued and appreciated that the work we do with students outside of the classroom plays a significant role in the University. This validation strengthens my sense of purpose and motivates me to do even better. I also find every segment of Prof Lily’s PSOU Address succinct – am very informed of and impressed with what we have achieved and where we are headed
Seah Wee Thye, Head, Arts & x-CEPT, Office of Student Life

To me, SMU is a tree of life with new branches and leaves emerging higher up symbolizing new opportunities and new aspirations. I feel included in SMU and look forward to contributing more as we foster a OneSMU mindset by having conversations with colleagues outside my department and sharing how we can all collaborate in achieving our common goals.
Rejendra Munoo, Head, Learning & Engagement, SMU Libraries

It’s amazing how the University has progressed in its various goals despite the pandemic and how the different offices have overcome the challenges of collaborating virtually to make it all happen.
Bun Pui Yoke, Head, Office of the Dean of Students Group Services

It was heart-warming to see everyone attending the event, especially when we have not been meeting face to face since the COVID-19. I liked the content on sustainability and growth of SMU. I am heartened by the hard work and achievements of SMU despite the difficulty of the pandemic. Prof Kong provided a clear introduction to SMU’s Sustainability Blueprint, which outlines ways in which we can all work together to make a positive impact and make us a vibrant city university!
Wesley Sng, Counsellor, Mrs Wong Kwok Leong Student Wellness Centre

At points during the address, I felt moved by what Prof Kong shared and proud to be a part of SMU. She mentioned that there are benefits to being a small university and perhaps one of them is that we are more nimble. After seven years I still feel engaged and want to keep learning and contributing to SMU’s success.
Juanita Rodrigo, Senior Manager, Stewardship & Advancement Services, Office of Advancement