It was in 1997 that the Singapore government first mooted the idea of a third university for Singapore. Then Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Tony Tan, believed that the new university should be different from the two established institutions – The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU). The government wanted SMU to be an experiment in diversity.
In 2000, SMU mde its first home at a single, two-storey building on Evans Road at the edge of the Bukit Timah Campus. Often referred to as the cradle of tertiary education in Singapore, the campus, officially opened as Raffles College in 1929, has been home to several institutions, where many political and business leaders of Singapore and Malaysia were educated. In 2001, SMU upgraded and occupied the main campus facilities, balancing the need to refit and refurbish it with state of the art facilities while preserving the heritage of its graceful colonial architecture. From 2001-2004, Professor Ronald Frank served as SMU’s second President. He was succeeded by Professor Howard Hunter (2004-2010) followed by Professor Arnoud De Meyer.

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Vision
To be a premier university, internationally recognized for its world-class research and distinguished teaching.
Mission
To create and disseminate knowledge. SMU aspires to generate leading-edge research with global impact as well as to produce broad-based, creative and entrepreneurial leaders for the knowledge-based economy. SMU is committed to an interactive, participative and technologically enabled learning experience. Towards this end, it will provide a rewarding and challenging environment for faculty, staff and students to kindle and sustain a passion for excellence.