Shih Choon Fong

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Shih Choon Fong
Shih 1.jpg
Founding President of KAUST
In office
December 2008 – June 2013
President of the
National University of Singapore
In office
Personal details
Born 1945
Spouse(s) Li Cheng
Residence Beijing, PRC & Singapore
Alma mater Singapore Polytechnic, Harvard University
Profession University professor, national university of singapore

Professor Shih Choon Fong (施春风; born 1945) is the former president of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and a renowned fracture mechanics expert. Before joining KAUST as Founding President in December 2008, he was president of the National University of Singapore (NUS) for 9 years and has been widely acknowledged[1] for creating the University's research-intensive focus with an entrepreneurial dimension, as well as for NUS' elevated global reputation. Drawing from his experiences abroad, Shih institutionalised a performance- and market-based evaluation and compensation system for academics.

Prof. Shih was a key driver for the formation of the International Alliance of Research Universities, and led the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) for four years. He was the founding chair of the Governing Board of the APRU World Institute and served on national-level committees such as the Economic Review Committee, which crafted wide-ranging strategies for the re-making of Singapore.

Shih was announced as the Founding President of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) on 13 January 2008. Shih fully assumed this new role on 1 December 2008. In summer 2012 Shih announced that he would step down as President of KAUST in fall 2013, after five years at the institution. He was succeeded by Caltech president Jean-Lou Chameau in July 2013. Under his guidance KAUST has become internationally respected among the world's best faculty, said KAUST Board chairman and Saudi Oil minister Ali I. Al-Naimi in a tribute.

Shih is among the highly cited researchers in the world for the category of engineering compiled by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI).

In 2004, Shih became the first Singaporean to be elected as a Foreign Associate to the United States National Academy of Engineering.[2]

He was awarded the French decoration "Chevalier" in the Order of the "Legion d'Honneur" in 2005.

In recognition of his work and research achievements, Shih was elected as a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2006.

In 2007, Shih received the inaugural Chief Executive Leadership Award for Asia Pacific presented by the Council for Advancement and Support for Education.

In 2016, an international symposium was held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in honor of Shih on the occasion of his 70th birthday.[3]

He is a member of the International Advisory Board of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Judging Panel. He is also advisor to Peking University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Those who admire his light-complexioned good looks and silvery mane of hair, have dubbed him "The Anderson Cooper of the Orient"[4]

1964 – 1966 Singapore Polytechnic, Diploma in Engineering
1968 – 1973 Harvard University, Division of Applied Science, MS & PhD
1969 – 1974 American Science and Engineering, Mathematical Analyst
1974 – 1981 General Electric, R&D, Head of Fracture Group
1981 – 1996 Brown University, Associate Professor & Professor
1996 – 1999 National University of Singapore, Founding Director of the Institute of Materials Research and Engineering
1997 – 2000 National University of Singapore, Deputy Vice-Chancellor
2000 – Dec 2008 National University of Singapore, Vice-Chancellor and President
Dec 2008 – Jun 2013 King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Founding President[5]
Aug 2013 – present National University of Singapore, University Professor


  1. ^ "A decade of dedicated leadership and service at NUS". NUS Knowledge Enterprise. 13 January 2008. Archived from the original on 31 December 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2008. 
  2. ^ "Singapore scientist elected to prestigious US National Academy of Engineering". Channel NewsAsia. 28 February 2006. 
  3. ^ "A Symposium to celebrate Choon Fong Shih on the occasion of his 70th birthday". 17 May 2016. 
  4. ^ Davie, Sandra (14 January 2008). "NUS President to leave at the end of this year" (pdf). Straits Times News. Retrieved 29 January 2008. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Shih Appointed KAUST President". Arab News. 13 January 2008. 

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Lim Pin
President of National University of Singapore
Succeeded by
Tan Chorh Chuan
New creation President of the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology
Dec 2008 – Jun 2013
Succeeded by
Jean-Lou Chameau