On 5 July 2022, His Excellency Mr Marc Abensour, Ambassador of France to Singapore, conferred the title of « Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur » to Professor Tan Eng Chye, President of the National University of Singapore, in recognition of his distinguished contributions in education and research.

Since it was founded by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, the Legion of Honour has been France’s highest distinction for military and civil accomplishments.

A mathematician by training, Prof Tan is a passionate and award-winning educator. He was a pioneer architect of the current academic system in NUS, and has seeded many initiatives such as the Special Programme in Science, University Scholars Programme, University Town Residential College Programme, Grade-free Year, and Technology-enhanced Education.

A strong believer in lifelong learning, Prof Tan led strategic efforts to transform NUS’ operational model and institutional culture to enable the University to pivot effectively to lifelong education.

Prof Tan also plays an active role in promoting collaboration among universities around the world. Building upon the University’s enduring friendship with its French partners, Prof Tan continued to foster and deepen NUS’ partnerships with French institutions in both education and research. NUS now offers a number of joint and double degree programmes with notable French partner universities, such as the six top engineering schools (Ecole Polytechnique, Mines Paris-PSL, CentraleSupélec, etc.) Sciences Po, HEC Paris and Université Paris-Cité. Since 1998, NUS has hosted more than 1,000 exchange students from France, and close to 900 NUS students had gone on student exchange to French universities.

Researchers from NUS also collaborate actively with French institutions in areas such as artificial intelligence, biomechanics, defence, engineering, mathematics and synthetic biology. Some of the university’s research partners in France include Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and its subsidiary CNRS@CREATE for the DesCartes programme which is about hybrid AI-based solutions to enable rapid decision-making in urban complex and critical systems.

In his speech during the ceremony, HE Mr Marc Abensour said: “Professor Tan Eng Chye, your leadership and mentorship abilities and openness to Franco-Singaporean collaborations have solidly laid the foundation for long lasting bilateral relations. This impact is a far-reaching and long-lasting one”.

Prof Tan said, “I am deeply honoured and humbled to receive this prestigious award on behalf of my colleagues in the National University of Singapore. This is a strong recognition of our continuous quest for excellence and our deep commitment to be a pathfinder in the advancement of education and research to create a better world for all. I would like to thank our friends in France for their longstanding friendship and support, and NUS looks forward to strengthening our existing collaborations in both education and research as well as exploring new areas of common interest”.

HE Mr Marc Abensour also underlined the presence of Mr Mathias Vicherat, Director of Sciences Po, and Prof Christine Clérici, President of Université Paris-Cité, who have decided to coincide their visit to Singapore with Prof Tan Eng Chye’s conferment ceremony.