Other speeches at Salovey’s inauguration

Remarks by Tan Chorh Chuan, president of the National University of Singapore

Good afternoon. It is a great pleasure and honor for me to offer warm greetings on behalf of the overseas universities gathered here today to celebrate this happy occasion: the inauguration of a truly remarkable individual, Peter Salovey, as the 23rd president of a truly remarkable institution, Yale University.

For more than three centuries Yale has been at the forefront of higher education. As a trailblazing leader, as well as an institution where worthy traditions are sustained and grown. A university which is at once a monument to human achievement, yet energized by an unceasing drive to innovate. A very special place of continuity and transformation.

Yale’s leadership and impact are profound, multifaceted, and global, from seminal contributions to the advancement of knowledge to its distinctive and powerful commitment to undergraduate education. From the oldest collegiate newspaper and the oldest continuously active a cappella singing group, to the invention of the Frisbee. From the immensely influential Yale Report on liberal education of 1828, to Yale’s current partnership with the National University of Singapore, to reimagine liberal arts education for the 21st century.

This afternoon seated in a chair of Abraham Pierson, the first rector of this university, Peter Salovey embodies so much of what is so special and admirable about Yale. Ezra Stiles prefaced his inauguration speech as Yale president in 1778 with the following words, “I consider it especially appropriate that in embarking on the exercise of his calling, a person should offer a public sample of the special competence to which he lays claim.” In this regard, Peter Salovey need say very little, as his special competence is already evident.

As a member of the Yale faculty since 1986 and through several distinguished leadership positions at Yale, Peter has played exceptional roles in the success of the university. As an outstanding teacher and scholar, who helped develop the concept of emotional intelligence, he brings scholarly instincts of the highest order to his leadership of Yale, together with a warm, open, and approachable personality that engages so readily here at Yale and with so many of us around the world.

I’ve also discovered that Peter is truly multidimensional, like the university he now leads. Unlike President Faust I had to look up the term bluegrass music, and to listen to a sample of it on YouTube. There are many versions of it on YouTube. I discovered it was a form of country music which draws from many traditions: Appalachian, Irish, Welsh, Scottish, English, and jazz. First, it is distinctly American and international, just like Peter and this institution. And let me add—I think all of you know—that you can catch Peter on double bass as a founding member of the Professors of Bluegrass, which recently released a new CD.

In Peter Salovey, therefore, we have a man who combines more than a fair share of extraordinary talents. His prioritzation of four themes—a more unified Yale, a more innovated Yale, a more accessible Yale, and a more excellent Yale—provides an exciting, rich, and broad canvas for the entire Yale community to engage and to act, building on the tremendous legacy of his predecessor Rick Levin, adding to the continuity and transformation of this great institution. Yale’s faculty, schools, and centers have been valued and remarkable collaborators to colleagues at hundreds of universities around the world.

On behalf of the university’s admirers and partners overseas, I extend our heartiest collective congratulations and best wishes to Peter Salovey, in the full confidence that he will lead Yale wisely and with great energy and success, to pursue the light and truth for the benefit of Yale, New Haven, the United States, and the world. Thank you.

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