IU President McRobbie to strengthen university's connections in Thailand

  • March 24, 2016

Editors: A Thai-language version of this news release is also available.


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Beginning March 30, Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie will lead a delegation on a weeklong trip to Thailand. He will help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Institute of Development Administration and renew a longstanding partnership agreement with the country's top public research university.

IU played a central role, in 1966, in establishing NIDA, Thailand’s leading educational institution that concentrates exclusively on graduate studies in fields related to national development.

McRobbie, accompanied by IU Vice President for International Affairs David Zaret, will also renew an agreement of friendship and cooperation that is more than two decades old with Bangkok's Chulalongkorn University, which has resulted in a number of successful scholarly and research exchanges.

McRobbie and Zaret will also meet with Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn; visit the Doi Tung Development Project in northern Thailand; host an award reception for IU alumnus Disnadda Diskul, chairman of the Mae Fah Luang Foundation; and explore the establishment of an IU Global Gateway office in Southeast Asia, among other activities.

"Indiana University's academic and research connections to Thailand run especially deep and span more than six decades of strategic engagement, academic collaboration and institution building," McRobbie said. "Indeed, IU has played a leading role in developing the country's most successful and prominent institutions of higher learning, including the National Institute of Development Administration, which has authored a proud, half-century-long legacy of fulfilling the educational needs of the people of Thailand.

"We are extremely pleased to be returning to Thailand to celebrate the success of NIDA and strengthen IU's connections with the country's top educational institutions that have led to student and faculty exchanges and other fruitful academic collaborations. We also look forward to reconnecting with the university's many Thai alumni, who are serving as leaders in Thai business, education and government."

IU has more than 1,000 alumni affiliated with Thailand, many of whom are members of the Thailand Chapter of the IU Alumni Association.

As part of NIDA's 50th anniversary celebration in Bangkok, McRobbie will deliver a keynote address at an academic conference on “NIDA's Legacy: A Five-Decade Focus on Sustainable Development.”

NIDA was established in 1966 as part of the king's vision of advancing Thailand through the creation of a higher education institution that focuses on national development. Established with financial support from the Ford Foundation and academic assistance from the Midwest Universities Consortium for International Activities, NIDA has become an academic home for Thai scholars who would otherwise have studied abroad.

As one of the founding members of the Midwest Universities Consortium for International Activities, IU began its strong ties with NIDA in 1948, when the university's president at the time, Herman B Wells, met with Thailand's Permanent Undersecretary for Education, Pin Malakul. The relationship between the two institutions has continued over the years, spawning many collaborations and exchanges.

Today, IU's Kelley School of Business and School of Public and Environmental Affairs are partners of NIDA, a public graduate university with 10 graduate schools. IU's Office of the Vice President for International Affairs manages a graduate exchange with NIDA, which is open to graduate students across IU.

In renewing its agreement with Chulalongkorn University, which was established in 1917 and is now the oldest university in the modern Thai educational system, IU expects to build upon a number of successful faculty and student exchanges that have taken place between the two institutions since 1994. One of those exchanges, between Chulalongkorn University and IU Bloomington's College of Arts and Sciences, has resulted in CU providing a Thai language instructor to IU's School of Global and International Studies, which houses IU's recently established Southeast Asian Studies Program.

During the trip, McRobbie will visit the Doi Tung Development Project, which is in the “Golden Triangle” area of Northern Thailand. The project began in the mid-1980s with the goal of developing alternative sources of income for villagers of Doi Tung, a high mountain in Chiang Rai, who had been involved in the production and sale of opium. Since then, the project has raised the overall standard of living in the area through a holistic approach to development that addresses income security, health and education.

On April 4, McRobbie and Zaret will meet with Princess Sirindhorn, whom IU awarded an honorary degree in 2010, at Srapathum Palace in Bangkok. During the meeting, they are expected to discuss IU's advancements in offering Thai language and culture courses, which Princess Sirindhorn has long advocated; the recent establishment of IU's Southeast Asian Studies Program; and the university's continued partnerships with NIDA and Chulalongkorn University.

At a special reception for IU alumni, government officials and members of Bangkok's diplomatic corps, McRobbie will present the Thomas Hart Benton Medallion to Disnadda Diskul in recognition of years of service to the Mae Fah Luang Foundation and its outstanding contributions to development in northern Thailand. The medallion is given to individuals who have achieved a level of distinction in public office or service and have exemplified the values of IU.

IU's partnership with Thailand dates back to 1948 and is one of the university's oldest official international relationships. IU helped develop the Institute of Public Administration at Thammasat University in 1955 as well as 16 teacher colleges in Thailand in the 1960s and 1970s, many of which are now four-year, comprehensive universities.

Additionally, several IU presidents have visited Thailand, beginning with IU's 11th president, Herman B Wells, who twice was knighted by the Thai government.

Reports as the trip progresses will be available at a blog site, IU Goes to Thailand, and through official IU social media channels on Facebook and Twitter.

Michael A. McRobbie

Michael A. McRobbie

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