SMU's Evolution - Distinguishing SMU
Oh yes, I would say materially. It would have been, I think, difficult to get the quality of deans that we brought to Singapore that were capable of decentralised management and capable of their expectations of leadership on the part of a dean, if we had been required to very narrowly construe what the role of a dean was, and what the role of a president was, maintaining power. The way a US university works. In a sense I would argue that the role of a president is to put a president out of a job. You want to delegate with first-rate people everything in sight you can. You got to monitor, your responsibility, if it goes wrong, it's your head. Fine. But you don't hang on to it. That's a US model, to much more extreme than I think prevailed in Singapore at that time.
Admissions, our admissions programme, again the advertising programme you've talked about. I don't think at that time you would have a prayer in an existing Asian institution, Singapore or not, of doing that kind of activity and bring it into being.
But, staff, okay, you're going to have several hundred staff. What's the job of a secretary? Now that is a world in which you can define jobs and talk about what their responsibilities are, and do assessments of the value of those jobs in the organisation. It requires a lot of paperwork to build a performance-driven salary structure. We went through that transition. That's not part of a typical government operation. It usually is last year plus n-percent. So all that got mapped in to the practices of the university.
The arms-length hiring of deans, doing global searches as part of the standard, sort of the gold standard of appointment.
But it takes time, and people weren't used to investing either the amount of money or the amount of time to try to get the best possible person for that task, rather than, ìHere is a circle of the people who are very loyal, I'll pick the best person there. Loyalty is a wonderful thing, I'm not deriding it. But if the larger world provides you a discernable difference in depth of experience and breadth, my book is, you go outside.