King Abdullah University Of Science And Technology (KAUST) Names Professor Choon Fong Shih Founding President

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National University of Singapore president Professor Choon Fong Shih is widely recognized as a global leader in academic and corporate scientific research, and will be joining KAUST as Founding President.

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I am deeply grateful to His Excellency Minister Ali Ibrahim Al-Naimi for this great honor and responsibility as the Founding President of KAUST. With His Excellency's support, I look forward to helping build KAUST into a global knowledge enterprise, whose discoveries in science and technology will bring benefits in your lives, your children's and their children's also.

After an extensive international search among top academic research leaders, His Excellency Minister Ali Ibrahim Al-Naimi, Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Board of Trustees, today announced that Professor Choon Fong Shih will be the Founding President of KAUST, the new world-class, graduate-level scientific research university now under development in Saudi Arabia. He is expected to assume his duties on December 1, 2008.

Currently the president of National University of Singapore (NUS), Professor Shih, 62, has broad expertise and experience in both academia and private industry as an eminent scientific researcher and educator. He is known internationally as a dynamic and visionary leader of a major research university.

H.E. Minister Al-Naimi noted that Professor Shih has played a critical role in enhancing scientific and technological capacity at NUS, making it one of the top research universities in Asia and the world.

H.E. Minister Al-Naimi also said, "Professor Shih is a man of purpose, conviction and cultural sensitivity. He has shown himself to be a 'builder of bridges' across peoples, disciplines, institutions and cultures. With his experience in building NUS as a global research university with an entrepreneurial dimension, Professor Shih has the vital attributes to facilitate the synergy between science and technology transfer. Working with the private sector, KAUST can be an engine of innovation and economic growth, providing greater opportunities to diversify the Saudi economy. We are confident that under his leadership KAUST will become a global center of scientific research that brings benefits to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and beyond."

H.E. Minister Al-Naimi added, "The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah has shared his vision for KAUST to be a new House of Wisdom, which will deliver 'its humane and noble message in an ideal environment, with the help of God and the minds and the ideas of enlightened people, who will participate in this educational mission without discrimination.' Professor Shih is the right person to fulfill this noble vision."

Professor Shih said that he was honored to meet the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz yesterday, and that he was grateful for the trust shown in selecting him to be part of the King's bold and noble vision for the Kingdom and the world at large.

Professor Frank Rhodes, president emeritus of Cornell University said: "The appointment of Professor Shih as the Founding President of KAUST represents a major step in the realization of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques' vision for creating a great new university of science and technology. A celebrated scientist, whose achievements have been widely recognized and honored, Professor Shih brings a wealth of international leadership experience in both the industrial and academic worlds. As a senior professor at Brown University, as a research group leader at General Electric, and as an extraordinarily entrepreneurial and successful president of National University of Singapore, Professor Shih has demonstrated an outstanding commitment and dedication to building successful alliances to promote the advancement of knowledge and to extend its benefits. He is superbly suited to lead this new institution and his appointment will be widely celebrated. The trustees and the university are to be congratulated on making an outstanding appointment."

Dr. Karen A. Holbrook, former President of The Ohio State University, added, "Professor Shih is a person of high energy, optimism and integrity, a perfect combination of personal assets for anyone with the task of building a project of such scope and complexity as KAUST. Knowing him personally, I can see readily how Professor Shih has accomplished so much in his career and most recently at National University of Singapore. His enthusiasm for the task at hand, his ability to instill confidence in others and his collegial approach of working collaboratively with everyone around him - all this suggests to me that KAUST could not have picked a better person as its Founding President."

His Excellency Dr. Khalid Al-Sultan, rector of King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), said, "I have come to know Professor Shih through his work as a member of KFUPM's International Advisory Council. We have also worked together as members of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology's International Advisory Council. I believe that his participation on both councils reflects his distinguished academic career and his accomplishments as a scientist. In addition, I would like to point out his role in transforming the National University of Singapore. Under his leadership, it has rapidly become one the premier institutions in Asia and indeed in the world. In my opinion, KAUST could not have selected a better person to be the University's Founding President."

During Professor Shih's tenure as president, NUS has been transformed from a respected teaching institution to a research-intensive university. It now stands in the top 50 universities worldwide, and has set a goal to build 10 great programs or departments in 10 years. NUS has successfully attracted top talents from world-class research universities. It has built strategic alliances with leading research universities around the world, and is a member of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), and APRU World Institute (AWI). On June 13, 2007, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between KAUST and NUS to collaborate on programs to advance scientific research, graduate education and technological development in fundamental and applied chemical sciences.

Professor Shih said, "I am deeply grateful to His Excellency Minister Ali Ibrahim Al-Naimi for this great honor and responsibility as the Founding President of KAUST. With His Excellency's support, I look forward to helping build KAUST into a global knowledge enterprise, whose discoveries in science and technology will bring benefits in your lives, your children's and their children's also."

To the wider scientific community around the world, Professor Shih said, "I am excited about building a university of global standing, adopting best practices and appointing global talents, encompassing all faiths and cultures. KAUST represents a paradigm shift - an intellectual and organizational innovation - to conduct high impact research unconstrained by disciplinary boundaries, to create a new ecosystem for research unfettered by organizational strictures, and to build meaningful partnerships across communities, cultures and continents. All for the larger purpose of serving humanity by finding scientific and technological solutions to the problems facing the Kingdom, the region, and the world."

For more information on Professor Choon Fong Shih, please click here.

For more information on King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), please click here.


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