SUSS appoints Humanities Professor Tan Tai Yong as President

Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) founding President, Professor Cheong Hee Kiat will be succeeded by Professor Tan Tai Yong with effect from 1 January 2023.

Professor Tan Tai Yong will take over the helm from founding SUSS president Cheong Hee Kiat on Jan 1 next year

SUSS founding President, Professor Cheong Hee Kiat

Singapore, July 19, 2022 – Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) founding President, Professor Cheong Hee Kiat will be succeeded by Professor Tan Tai Yong with effect from 1 January 2023.  

Professor Cheong Hee Kiat – A stalwart and advocate of lifelong learning and the social impact of higher education in Singapore

Professor Cheong Hee Kiat is the Founding President of SUSS since 2005. His passion for lifelong learning and doing good through making education accessible to people from all walks of life is almost synonymous with the growth story of SUSS.  Under Professor Cheong’s leadership in the past 17 years, the University grew from strength to strength (from 1,500 students to over 17,000 students today) in fulfilling its social mission as a university serving Singaporeans.

On behalf of SUSS Board of Directors, the management team, and our students, we would like to express our deep gratitude to Professor Cheong for his leadership and his impact over the past 17 years. Under his able leadership, the University’s deep understanding of the adult learning sector and its broad offerings of applied programmes gained tremendous industry recognition. 

A firm believer that one should be a “Learner for Life”, Professor Cheong regularly rallies students and the SUSS community to pursue continuing learning so as to stay relevant and adaptive to the changing world. With Professor Cheong’s foresight he has built a strong and well-rounded university. Indeed, it augers well for the future direction and growth of SUSS.

He joined academia at Nanyang Technological University in 1986, and held various academic and administrative appointments including Deputy President and Dean of Civil and Environmental Engineering.  He has served on the boards of several tertiary education institutions, the Public Utilities Board (PUB), the Building & Construction Authority (BCA), and public committees including the Committee on University Education Pathways beyond 2015 (CUEP) and Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE), which led to an enlargement of university cohort participation rate and the establishment of the SkillsFuture movement, respectively. He has also been active in university accreditation and academic audits in Singapore and internationally. He is currently a member of the Singapore Engineering Accreditation Board, the Council for Third Age and chairman of the Singapore Bible College.  He was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Gold) in 2020.

Mrs Mildred Tan, Chairman of SUSS Board of Trustees said, “On behalf of SUSS and the Board, I would like to express our deepest gratitude to Professor Cheong for his years of dedication and service to SUSS. Under his leadership, SUSS has accomplished so much. His pioneering achievements over the years, the resulting recognition of SUSS as an Autonomous University and the excellent results of our Graduate Employment Surveys are testaments to the admirable contributions by his outstanding leadership.  We are grateful for his service and unwavering support.” 

Professor Cheong Hee Kiat said, “It has been a privilege for me to serve alongside my colleagues, the wider SUSS community and our partners to bring accessible, good quality applied learning to our students. It is especially gratifying that through SUSS, many are given the opportunity to uplift their careers and lives for themselves and for their families. The University has grown in scale, relevance and standing – all these accomplished through the hard work and dedication of the entire SUSS community, faculty, colleagues, benefactors and other partners.  I am blessed by the support extended to me by the SUSS Board of Trustees and my colleagues.  The role of higher education is shifting, and the university must change and innovate along with the disruptions that emerge – I am confident that SUSS is ready for the future.”

Professor Tan Tai Yong – Building on SUSS’ legacy of creating Social Impact

Professor Tan Tai Yong has a distinguished career serving in various leadership and advisory roles with NUS and several leading cultural, historical and research organisations. Prior to his new appointment, he was President and Professor of Humanities (History) at Yale-NUS College.  He played an active role in shaping the College’s academic programme including the common curriculum and the important integration of academic and residential life at the College. 

Professor Tan is Honorary Chairman of the National Museum of Singapore and serves on the National Heritage Board as well as the National Library Board.  He is Chairman of the Institute of South Asian Studies.  He was appointed as the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS)’ 6th S R Nathan Fellow for the Study of Singapore, for the period from 1 August 2018 to 31 May 2019. In 2016, he was appointed to the Singapore Social Sciences Research Council. He is co-chair of the Founders’ Memorial Committee and served as a Nominated Member of Parliament from 2014 to 2015. 

He was awarded the Public Administration Medal (Silver) and the Public Service Medal at the 2009 and 2020 National Day Awards, respectively.

Professor Tan completed his doctorate at Cambridge University. He has been a faculty member of the NUS Department of History since 1992 and served the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences as Sub-Dean (1994–1999), Head of the History Department (2000–2003), Vice-Dean (2001–2003) and Dean (2004–2009). As a recognition for his commitment to teaching, he received the Teaching Excellence Awards in 1992 and 2000.

Professor Tan specialises in South and Southeast Asian History and he has published extensively on the Sikh Diaspora, social and political history of colonial Punjab, de-colonisation and the partition of South Asia, and Singapore history. He has authored and co-authored several books, including Singapore: Seven Hundred Years – A History of Singapore, (2019); Creating Greater Malaysia: The Politics of Merger (2008); The Garrison State (2005) and The Aftermath of Partition in South Asia (2001).

In 2001, he was awarded the Moncado Prize for outstanding essay published in the Journal of Military History.  

Professor Tan said, “I am honoured to have the opportunity to be part of SUSS, a purpose-led University with a rich history of providing lifelong education for learners from all walks of life.  I look forward to working alongside with the Board of Trustees, SUSS colleagues, students and partners to build on the strong foundation that has been built over the years.  The University’s focus on applied social sciences and lifelong learning are important pillars that will demonstrate our commitment to deepening our understanding of society, its rapidly evolving needs, challenges, and opportunities.”

Mrs Mildred Tan said, “I am very pleased to welcome Professor Tan to SUSS and trust that we will benefit greatly from his vast experience and deep expertise as we continue to work on strengthening ourselves for future growth.   Professor Tan’s leadership will help unlock the impact of our transformative work in adult learning and education, and nurture the next generation of purposeful global citizens of Singapore and the region.”

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About the Singapore University of Social Sciences
SUSS is a university with a rich heritage in inspiring lifelong education, and transforming society through applied social sciences. We develop students and alumni to be work-ready and work-adaptive, aspiring to reach their full potential, through our 3H’s education philosophy – ‘Head’ for professional competency with applied knowledge, ‘Heart’ for social awareness to meet the needs of the society, and ‘Habit’ for passion towards lifelong learning.

We offer over 80 undergraduate and graduate programmes, available in full- and part-time study modes, which are flexible, modular and inter-disciplinary, catering to both fresh school leavers and adult learners. SUSS also offers a broad range of continuing education and training modular courses for the professional skills upgrading of Singapore’s workforce.

Our programmes and courses are offered by our five schools:

  • S R Nathan School of Human Development
  • School of Business
  • School of Humanities and Behavioural Sciences
  • School of Law
  • School of Science and Technology

To date, over 42,000 graduates have experienced our unique brand of education, and each year, about 17,000 students are pursuing their full- and part-time studies with us.

The Institute for Adult Learning (IAL), as part of SUSS, leads in the field of research on adult and workplace learning and training of adult educators to build capabilities of the training and adult education sector in Singapore and beyond.

For more information on SUSS, please visit