Walk through the hallowed halls of the the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame (SWHF) and you will see the President of Singapore Management University (SMU) Lily Kong among the exemplary group of women who had, in one way or another, contributed to the country.
Professor Kong is among the seven women inducted this year (2022). They include pioneering social worker and family violence specialist Sudha Nair, executive director of the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) Leo Yee-Sin, and icon of Malay music and film in the 1950s and 1960s and 2016 Cultural Medallion recipient Nona Asiah.
Prof Kong: Made history twice during her tenure at SMU
Professor Kong made history in 2015 when she was appointed as SMU’s Provost, making her the first woman university Provost in Singapore. Then in 2018 she became the 22-year-old university’s fifth President and the first Singaporean to helm the institution.
In her tenure at SMU, she has driven many projects that have enhanced the quality of SMU’s students and faculty, and its educational offerings and research. Her numerous initiatives included a major revamp of SMU’s undergraduate core curriculum, the introduction of new interdisciplinary majors and tracks, and the establishment of the SMU Academy, which offers skills upgrading programmes for working adults.
As the President, she also reviewed the university’s strategy to achieve Vision 2025, which is “to be a world-renowned global city university, tackling the world’s complexities, and impacting humanity positively” and identified the three strategic priority areas to focus on – Digital Transformation, Sustainable Living, and Growth in Asia – so that the university could better serve the community and the region.
Internationally, Prof Kong is known for her research on urban transformations in Asian cities, focusing on social and cultural change. She has written extensively about communal relations, particularly, the crossroads of religion and secularity in cities, creative industries/cities, urban heritage conservation, and smart cities.
She is an award-winning researcher and teacher locally and internationally and is on the editorial boards of more than 15 international journals in her field and is frequently featured as a keynote speaker or a moderator at conferences. She has even co-authored or co-edited over 20 books, published over 100 refereed journal articles, and contributed over 60 book chapters.
Prof Kong is currently co-editing two books, one on higher education in the Asia-Pacific region, which will be published later this year, and another is just being conceptualised and developed on an authoritative state of the art review of geographical approaches to the study of religion, as well as intersections with other disciplinary approaches.
“I’m honoured to be thus recognised, especially given how some of the truly outstanding women pioneers of Singapore have been acknowledged in the Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame,” says Prof Kong.
The Singapore Women’s Hall of Fame is an expansion of the Wall of Fame by the Singapore Council of Women’s Organisations (SCWO). Launched in March 2014, it aims to recognise and salute the outstanding women of Singapore in the various fields of endeavour. It is also a celebration of the women who have made, or are making, an impact on our nation – the boundary breakers and record holders, the risk-takers and change makers, the role models and the standard setters. It recognises women who are shaping society with their vision and passion, their enterprise and leadership, their talent and creativity, their humanity, and they serve as an inspiration to others.
Prof Kong received a trophy called the “Flame” from President Halimah Yacob at The Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Istana on 8 March.