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From CMU to Singapore: Subra Suresh to helm Nanyang Technological University

Natasha Lindstrom
| Thursday, July 13, 2017, 10:09 a.m.
The newly inaugurated ninth president of Carnegie Mellon University, Subra Suresh (right), is handed the charter of CMU by CMU Chairman of the Board Raymond Lane at Suresh's inauguration in Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland, Friday Nov. 15, 2013.
Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
The newly inaugurated ninth president of Carnegie Mellon University, Subra Suresh (right), is handed the charter of CMU by CMU Chairman of the Board Raymond Lane at Suresh's inauguration in Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland, Friday Nov. 15, 2013.

Former Carnegie Mellon University President Subra Suresh has been named president of the world-renowned Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, officials announced Thursday.

Suresh — known internationally as an eminent scientist, engineer and higher education leader — surprised the Pittsburgh college community last month by abruptly announcing he was stepping down from his post helming CMU after four years.

Suresh chose the NTU Singapore role in part because he has "a very special affinity for Singapore and numerous interactions with colleagues here in academia, industry and government," he said in a statement.

"I am excited to have the honor of leading NTU, with its rich history, heritage and beautiful, cosmopolitan campus in a vibrant city-state serving as a global hub for finance, commerce, education, research and culture at the crossroads of Asia," Suresh continued, "at a time when Asia is poised to take a significant leadership role in shaping the 21st century."

NTU Singapore Board Chairman Koh Boon Hwee introduced Suresh as the university's president Thursday via a letter to faculty, staff, students and more than 200,000 alumni, officials said. The board chair said Suresh was offered the job following a search process led by an eight-member committee that began last year. Suresh replaces Professor Bertil Andersson as NTU Singapore's fourth president.

"A world-class university, NTU will need a leader with vision, global stature, a thorough understanding of the environment in which it operates, and the larger international backdrop that the university and Singapore fit into," Koh Boon Hwee said in a statement . "Professor Suresh more than matches all these criteria."

NTU Singapore has more than 33,000 undergraduate and graduate students, more than 1,600 academic staffers and a nearly $2 billion endowment. The Quacquarelli Symonds group placed the university No. 11 in the world and the best in Asia, and Times Higher Education has deemed it the world's fastest rising young university four years in a row.

When Suresh announced his departure from Pittsburgh , CMU officials credited him with guiding the college through a long-term strategic plan, creating a presidential fellowship and scholarship program to support students and overseeing more than $500,000 worth of investment into expanding and improving the college's facilities. Mayor Bill Peduto lamented his loss, referring to Suresh as a "visionary" and not only "one of the top scientists in the world, but also a gentleman."

Suresh, a native Indian, came to the United States as a young man to attend graduate school at Iowa State University and later earned a doctorate at MIT.

Prior to helming CMU, Suresh taught at Brown University, served as dean of MIT's school of engineering and oversaw the National Science Foundation's $7 billion annual budget under the Obama administration.

Since July 1, CMU Provost Farnam Jahanian, a nationally recognized computer scientist, has been serving interim president while CMU searches for its next leader.

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@tribweb.com or on Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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