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SUTD Confers Honorary Degrees for the First Time

30 Oct 2021

Founding Board members Philip Ng and Sam Goi recognised with SUTD’s highest honour for their contributions

In recognition of their exceptional contributions to the university since its establishment, the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) conferred its first honorary degrees to two founding members of its Board of Trustees (BOT):

  • Mr Philip Ng, the chief executive officer of Far East Organization and founding Chairman of SUTD’s BOT, and

  • Mr Sam Goi, founder and chairman of Tee Yih Jia and SUTD’s current Patron for Advancement.

The conferment took place at SUTD’s Class of 2020 physical graduation ceremony which was presided by SUTD Chancellor Dr Tony Tan and included a keynote speech by Ambassador-at-Large, Professor Chan Heng Chee.

Mr Philip Ng (left) with SUTD Chancellor Dr Tony Tan (right).

Mr Philip Ng has contributed significantly to the creation of SUTD, having chaired the Steering Committee set up for its establishment in 2009. He personally led the discussions with SUTD’s first partner universities Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Zhejiang University to form a three-way education collaboration, enabling the creation of a unique university that embraced the best of what the East and West has to offer to academia and research. As the Chairman of SUTD's BOT, Mr Ng was deeply involved in identifying and hiring the academic and administrative leadership of the university. He also provided guidance and oversight for the SUTD campus development project. Furthermore, Mr Ng mooted the idea for first-year students to stay on campus for the bonding experience with their peers. He also established the premier thought-leadership programmes – Iconic Voices from MIT and SUTD Masters of Technology and Design Lectures that featured top speakers like Lord Ara Darzi, Fumihiko Maki, etc. Mr Ng is a recipient of The Distinguished Service Order, 2018. More of Mr Ng’s contributions can be found in Annex A.
 
Mr Ng said: “I am deeply honoured to be conferred an Honorary Doctor of Letters today. By the Grace of God, I was able to embark on a wonderful journey with SUTD to nurture technically grounded leaders to serve societal needs through technology and design. SUTD has a growing track record in applying technology innovations to solve complex issues. It is well placed to feature more actively in shaping Singapore’s built environment particularly in environmental sustainability, where there is room for greater academic input and an informed discourse.”

Mr Sam Goi (left) receiving the Honorary Degree from Dr Tony Tan (right).

Mr Sam Goi, Chairman of Tee Yih Jia Food Manufacturing, was a former member of the SUTD BOT and the previous Chair of the SUTD Advancement and Development Committee. He had served in these roles since 2010 and provided exceptional leadership on all fundraising matters. In addition, he proactively helped open doors to connect the university with his vast network of potential donors. Mr Goi was also instrumental in helping with the SUTD-Lee Kuan Yew fund-raising campaign in 2013. The impact of Mr Goi’s contribution was immense, as he helped SUTD to build up its endowment fund and achieve fundraising success within a short timeframe. Majority of the funds raised go towards providing scholarships and financial aid for deserving students, particularly those with demonstrated financial need. This is in line with his lifelong mission to nurture young talents in service of society and Singapore (十年树木,百年树人). Mr Goi is also a recipient of the Public Service Star (Bar) and a Justice of the Peace. More of Mr Goi’s contributions can be found in Annex A.
 
Mr Goi said: “I would like to thank SUTD for this conferment. I feel extremely honoured to be given this recognition and I accept it with the greatest humility. This degree conferment – although awarded to me – is not my own. I am merely a representative accepting this honour on behalf of all those I’ve worked with, and those who share my passion for philanthropy and education. I also would like to share this recognition with all my friends who have worked together with me to serve the purpose of further education, and I am extremely grateful to SUTD for the affirmation and acknowledgement today.”
 
Professor Chong Tow Chong, SUTD's President, said: “I am very pleased to be able to confer these Honorary Degrees of Doctor of Letters to Mr Philip Ng and Mr Sam Goi. We are immensely grateful to them for their exceptional contributions to SUTD since its establishment. SUTD would not be what it is today if not because of Philip and Sam’s foresight and stewardship in providing valuable guidance and advice as we built the new university from scratch. I would also like to congratulate the Class of 2020 for their tenacity and resilience as they were greatly impacted by the pandemic. They have all done well and should be proud of themselves. I look forward to seeing what they will achieve with the design thinking and interdisciplinary skills and knowledge they have been equipped with to create a better world by design.”

Annex A: Citations of SUTD’s First Honorary Graduands

Mr Philip Ng

Mr Philip Ng was the Chairman of the first Steering Committee that started brainstorming the establishment of a new engineering university. That is, before SUTD was even named. During this time, he made many invaluable contributions to the development of the university, spearheading the strategy and framework for its establishment. He also worked out a three-way collaboration between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Zhejiang University and SUTD, guided deliberations and brought the collaboration to fruition. This enabled the creation of a unique University that embraces the best of what the East and West have to offer to academia and research.
 
As founding Chairman of the SUTD Board of Trustees, Mr Ng was also deeply involved in identifying and hiring the founding President, Provost and Associate Provost for Education to form the academic leadership of the university. He also chaired the Campus Planning Committee that chose the University's campus facility design, providing guidance and oversight for the campus development project right up till the opening of the campus.
 
Mr Ng has also been the University's largest benefactor with donations from Far East Organization and his other companies. His donations went towards providing scholarships and financial aid to deserving students. 
 
We know that Mr Ng's contributions to the community are not limited to SUTD. He has contributed to various other education institutions and non-profit organisations and foundations in a variety of ways.
 
Here at SUTD, we are deeply grateful for his inspirational leadership and unwavering support that has so greatly helped to shape SUTD into a unique academic institution within the Singapore education landscape.



Mr Sam Goi

Mr Sam Goi is the current Patron for SUTD’s Advancement. He was the previous Chairman of the Advancement and Development Committee. Mr Goi has served in these roles since 2010 and provided exceptional leadership on all fundraising matters, including strategic directions, prospect identification, cultivation strategies, grant proposals and solicitations. In addition, he proactively helped open doors to connect the university with his vast network of potential donors.
 
In 2013, Mr Goi was also instrumental in helping the University raise funds for SUTD-Lee Kuan Yew Campaign. As the Campaign Chairman, Mr Goi led the fundraising to advance education at SUTD, enabling students to enjoy SUTD's unique education without financial burdens. As he wanted to honour his father's legacy, he made a substantial personal donation, naming SUTD's Chinese Pavilion after the senior Mr Goi Koh Tong (魏可忠).
 
The impact of Mr Goi’s contribution was immense, to help SUTD in building up its endowment fund and achieve fundraising success within a short timeframe. Under his strong leadership and guidance, SUTD achieved S$1.2 Billion in its endowment (donation, government match and seed funding) within nine years since its inception. Majority of the funds raised go towards providing scholarships and financial aid for deserving students.
 
Besides SUTD, Mr Goi has also made many contributions to the community. He is active at the grassroots level, with responsibilities at the Chinese Development Assistance Council, Ulu Pandan Citizens’ Consultative Committee, Singapore Badminton Association and Singapore Table Tennis Association. He also focuses primarily on education causes, having donated to multiple academic institutions beyond SUTD.