Degree Speeches
Summer 2003

Professor Leo Tan Wee-Hin

Public Orator, Professor Ian Davidson, presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony in Singapore held on Sunday 31 August.


Singapore is renowned for the quality of and output from its education system. Annually it is one of the leading nations in the world for competence in both Maths and Physics. Good education systems need good teachers, we can all remember how certain teachers brought individual subjects alive for us that cemented a life long interest in a particular subject. The National Institute of Education at Nanyang Technological University is an institute comparable with the best teacher training institutes worldwide.

When in 1991 the then Minister of Education Dr Tony Tan commissioned the setting up of NIE from IE, it was essential that the senior staff of this new University institute were capable of realising his vision. Only the very best people were invited to join this new enterprise. It was essential that they shared the vision and were capable of fully implementing it. Hand picked experts were identified and the vision and measure of its successful implementation is plain for all to see 10 short years later.

Amongst that small elite was Dr Leo Tan, then Director of the Singapore Science Centre. A man who enthused about science in such a way that we could see he was a born teacher and future leader.

Leo Tan graduated from the University of Singapore with a BSc Honours in Zoology in 1969 and a PhD in Marine Biology in 1974. He held various teaching positions with the University from 1973 – 1986 and moved full time from his Senior Lectureship to the Singapore Science Centre in 1986. One of those invited to lead NIE forwards in 1991 as foundation Dean of Science, his subsequent appointment to full Professor in 1992, then Director of the NIE in 1994, are testimony to his abilities which were so ably spotted by those tasked with identifying such potential in 1991.

His life long interest in Marine Biology is ably demonstrated in his recent prestigious publications in Nature and Science, even when fully involved in the daily administration of this very vibrant NIE.

He is a dedicated teacher and researcher an enthusiast who has no difficulty in switching on young and old alike to the delights of science. A rare breed of person whose abilities have been recognised by invitation to sit on various influential committees both at home and abroad connected with his full range of interests.

Singapore has much to be grateful for amongst its dedicated academics and those like Leo Tan who inspire by example are much prized within any academic community.

He is now a full time educator, researcher and administrator with overall responsibility for the training of teachers from initial to in-service, including the flagship leadership programme.

Recognition of this standing can be seen in the public awards he has received to-date. Notably, the public Administration Gold Medal - 1988, Public Service Medal - 1995, Public Service Star - 2001, Green Leaf Environmental Award - 1997, Natural Science and Technology Medal – 1999 and the Order of Merit 2002 from the French Government.

Therefore Vice-Chancellor, I present to you Professor Tan Wee Hin, Leo, Educator, Researcher and Administrator of rare distinction, for the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa.


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H.D.McCullam@lboro.ac.uk, August 2003

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