He leaves behind a heritage institution transformed during his six-year leadership.
Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) President, Mr Chia Mia Chiang will be stepping down on 31 December 2020 after six years of distinguished leadership. He will be succeeded by Mrs Tan-Soh Wai Lan on 1 January 2021 who will be appointed President-Designate from 21 December 2020.
Mr Chia has led the 82-year-old academy to grow in size and strength. A key piece of work was an intensive academy-wide strategic review in 2014 to enhance NAFA’s standing as a student-centric institution driven by organisational excellence. The result was a 10-year strategic plan which has served as a blueprint for the academy to make major inroads in becoming an eminent arts institution. In the past few years, NAFA has enhanced its academic programmes by introducing an Industry-Based Learning curriculum with a mandatory semester-long internship; a funded Overseas Immersion Programme; academy-wide interdisciplinary projects tapping on the rich cultural traditions of Southeast Asia; an annual Arts Entrepreneurship Boot Camp and a NAFA Talent Development Programme to groom exceptional students. More recently, the NAFA Foundation Programme was launched in 2019 to provide an alternative pathway for N-levels (Academic) students who are keen to kickstart a transition to a specialised arts course at the tertiary level. These efforts to enhance teaching and learning, and strengthen student and staff development, were made possible by the shared vision of the staff as well as NAFA’s healthy financial position.
During his tenure, Mr Chia secured the largest donation for NAFA since its founding which enabled the completion of a new campus located above Bencoolen MRT Station. In 2015, The Ngee Ann Kongsi pledged a sum of $10 million to NAFA and the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple donated $5 million the year after.
The academy received a strong testimony from the 2019 MOE Arts Quality Assurance Framework External Review Panel which gave a glowing review of “the work done by the President and the senior management team in laying a strong foundation for NAFA through the establishment of the 10-year strategic plan and the development of a new curriculum”.
NAFA Board Chairman Ms Low Sin Leng said, “The academy is deeply grateful to Mia Chiang for his vision and wisdom. Notably, he has been a pillar of strength as he steered the academy smoothly in this challenging year. Teaching and learning has continued albeit in alternative modes and student enrolment has held steady. Mia Chiang leaves behind a legacy in a distinguished arts institution strengthened by his transformational leadership.”
Ms Low continued, “I am confident that Wai Lan, in working closely together with the management team and all colleagues, will build upon the excellent foundation to lead NAFA into its next chapter and uplift it to greater heights, contributing to the growth and advancement of arts and creative industries in Singapore and the region.”
Mr Chia said, “It has been an immense privilege to be involved in NAFA’s growth and transformation. I am appreciative of the support which the academy has given me, and I am proud of the results that we have achieved in unity. I am glad to be passing the baton to Wai Lan whose dynamism will serve NAFA well in its next phase of growth.”
Known as an inspiring and dynamic educator and an authentic and caring leader, Mrs Tan-Soh Wai Lan joins NAFA from her appointment as Coordinating Divisional Director, Communications and Engagement Group (CEG) at Ministry of Education. In her four years in MOE, she has led and transformed the CEG to be an effective and forward-thinking outfit within the Ministry known for its innovative practices, robust systems and effective strategies. Prior to that, she was principal of CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School from 2012 to 2016 where she led the school on a new vision built on long-standing and cherished school values, and reinvigorated the school spirit and raised school pride among students, alumni and parents. She also coordinated and led the implementation of the school's Joint Integrated Programme with Catholic High School and Singapore Chinese Girls' School. She had taken on various roles in the education sector and received the Public Administration Medal (Silver) in 2015 for her dedication and contribution.