Press Releases

October 29, 2009

Professor Thomas Magnanti Named President of Singapore University of Technology and Design

Professor Thomas Magnanti, Institute Professor1 of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and former Dean of the School of Engineering, will serve as the President of the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SU) from 1 October 2009.

Prof. Magnanti’s appointment was announced by the SU’s Board of Trustees today. During his three-year term of appointment, Prof. Magnanti will be on leave from the MIT faculty and will devote his time fully to the SU.

In announcing the appointment of Prof. Magnanti, Mr. Philip Ng, Chairman of the SU’s Board of Trustees, said, “Prof. Magnanti’s exceptional record as a researcher and academic administrator, his familiarity with Singapore, and his understanding of the purpose and vision for the university, make him the best person to lead the SU at this crucial phase in its inception.”

Commenting on his appointment, Prof. Magnanti said, “The creation of the Singapore University of Technology and Design is as exciting as it is ambitious. Through its distinctive education and research and focus on technology grounded leadership, it will be well poised to serve Singapore, the region and the world. I am honoured to serve as its founding President and to be able to work closely with Mr. Philip Ng and so many other leaders in Singapore and with the Ministry of Education, the National Research Foundation, and other offices and organizations to achieve the university’s soaring goals.”

Prof Magnanti’s appointment as the President reflects the close relationship that the SU is expected to have with MIT. As announced by the Ministry of Education in May 2009, discussions with MIT are ongoing for a collaboration that will see a core team of experienced professors from MIT play a lead role in the development of the SU curriculum, and a steady exchange of faculty between the two universities participating in research and education activities on both campuses.

The SU is also in discussions with a top Chinese university on a possible collaboration. These strategic alliances with top universities overseas will uniquely position the SU to offer its students and faculty rich opportunities for international collaborations and global exposure.

The SU will admit its first intake of up to 500 students in 2011. The university’s programmes will initially be based on four pillars leading to separate degree programmes tentatively named: (i) Architecture and Sustainable Design, (ii) Engineering Product Design, (iii) Engineering Systems and System Design, and (iv) Information Engineering and Design. Design as an academic discipline cuts across all four pillars. Each degree programme will be undergirded by an integrated foundation of mathematics, sciences and the humanities. Interdisciplinary courses and projects will bring together students from all pillars to exchange ideas, learn to work in teams, and experience hands-on learning. As the university evolves, its curriculum will be adapted to integrate the best new technologies and to reflect the latest advances in design theory and methodology.

The university may also introduce innovations in the organization of the university. The team is exploring doing away with traditional academic departments and organizing the university according to technology and science clusters instead to support the interdisciplinary nature of its programmes and encourage collaboration across disciplines.

Over the longer term, the SU is envisioned to be a world-class research-intensive university with a focus on design education that is holistic, systematic and anchored in the foundations of science and technology. It will produce technologically-grounded leaders that serve the vital needs of the nation and world.

The Board of Trustees for SU

The Board of Trustees for the SU was appointed in August 2009. It continues from the good progress made by the New University Steering Committee to lay the groundwork for the establishment of the university. The Board of Trustees is responsible for ensuring that the SU acts in accordance with its objectives and that the funds and assets of the SU are properly accounted for and safeguarded.

The Board of Trustee members are drawn from a broad range of sectors to provide the expertise and experience required to start up a new academic enterprise. They have been actively involved in the development of the SU over the past few months and are deeply committed to making the SU a success.

The list of the Board of Trustee members is at Annex B.

Brief Biography of Professor Thomas L. Magnanti

Professor Thomas Magnanti is one of fourteen Institute Professors at MIT and former Dean of MIT’s School of Engineering. He has devoted much of his professional career to education that combines engineering and management and to teaching and research in applied and theoretical aspects of large-scale optimization. As Dean, he focused on educational innovation, industrial and international partnerships, technology-based entrepreneurship, diversity and innovation in emerging domains such as bioengineering, tiny technologies, information engineering and engineering systems.

He has led several centers and programs at MIT including, as the founding co-director, MIT’s Leaders for Manufacturing and System Design and Management Programs and, as founding director, the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART). He has served as president of three major professional societies and editor of Operations Research. He also headed one third of the Sloan School of Management for several years.

Professor Magnanti has received numerous educational and research awards and honorary degrees and has served on a number of corporate and university boards. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has an undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering from Syracuse University, and masters’ degrees in Statistics and in Mathematics as well as a Ph.D. in Operations Research, all from Stanford University.

Professor Magnanti has a long association with Singapore, dating from the mid 1980’s. As a contributing faculty member and then member of the Governing Board of SMA, and later as the Director of SMART, he has spent considerable time in Singapore for over ten years.


  1. Institute Professor is the highest title that can be awarded to a faculty member at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is analogous to the titles of Distinguished Professor, University Professor, or Regents Professor used at other universities in recognition of a professor’s extraordinary research achievements and dedication to the school.