The delegation’s final day in Thailand

IUPUI delegation meets with colleagues at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, October 11, 2018

IUPUI delegation meets with colleagues at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, October 11, 2018

International delegations such as ours can encounter scheduling opportunities that require a willingness and ability to be flexible. Fortunately, on their last day in Thailand, many of our delegation members were able to accommodate an additional meeting with colleagues at Chulalongkorn University.

Our initial visit to Chulalongkorn during this trip took place on Monday and focused primarily on public health. This second visit dramatically expanded the scope of the conversation to include engineering, informatics, and science.

As the photo above shows, we were met by a great many colleagues from Chula, including representatives from the departments of chemistry, geology, environmental science, materials science, and mathematics and computer science.

With common interests in many areas such as forensic science and analytical chemistry, geology and environmental science, battery and fuel cell development, and nanotechnology, in addition to our longstanding relationship in dentistry, we have a great many opportunities to enhance our relationship with Chula and look forward to continuing this important conversation.

The connection between the School of Dentistry and Chulalongkorn deserves special recognition. Dr. Thanpuying Petchara Techakampuch graduated from the School of Dentistry in 1958. She went on to an illustrious career ultimately serving as the late King Rama IX’s dentist as well as the Dean of Dentistry at Chulalongkorn. Thanpuying is a royally bestowed honorific title meaning “Lady.”

Dr. Thanpuying Petchara Techakampuch, 1959 graduate from the School of Dentistry with Michael Kowolik, Gabe Chu (both of IUSD), and two additional colleagues

Dr. Thanpuying Petchara Techakampuch, 1959 graduate of the School of Dentistry, with Michael Kowolik, Gabe Chu (both of IUSD), and two additional colleagues

Dr. Petchara’s protege Dr. Suteera Hovijitra followed her to Indianapolis and the School of Dentistry and remained as an IUSD faculty member. In total, 51 Thai students have studied at IUSD. In fact, they have developed a counting system, numbering each student. The next Thai student to enter the program will be number 35, linked like a chain to those who have come before. They have a messaging chat room to bring them together and meet regularly, especially when Dr. Suteera visits from Indy.

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Building partnerships at every level in Thailand

IUPUI delegation meets with colleagues from the Ministry of Science and Technology, October 10, 2018

IUPUI delegation meets with colleagues from the Ministry of Science and Technology, October 10, 2018

The macro and the micro of international partnerships

Today brought conversations reflecting the many levels at which international partnerships in higher education work. On the “micro” level, we have faculty-to-faculty discussions where we identify research synergies and student exchange opportunities, among other possibilities. We also work at a “macro” level, establishing relationships with national ministries and organizations to learn about government-funded scholarship programs and collaborations with government ministries that could help streamline partnership building, among other matters.

A visit to #1 ranked Mahidol University

As these delegations so often do, our delegation operated at both the micro and macro levels today with part of the team visiting counterparts at Mahidol University, recently ranked number one in Thailand. That provided what might be termed a get-to-know-you session that builds on the foundation laid by Michael Kowolik and Gabe Chu from the School of Dentistry in a September 2018 meeting at Mahidol.

Mahidol University has regal origins: former King Chulalongkorn founded Mahidol University in 1888 as the country’s first medical school. They currently have more than 16,000 students and are very focused on the possibility of collaboration in areas such as public health.

Sue Babich of the Fairbanks School of Public Health and Rita Koryan of the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs with colleagues from Mahidol University, October 10, 2018

Sue Babich of the Fairbanks School of Public Health and Rita Koryan of the Office of the Vice President for International Affairs with colleagues from Mahidol University, October 10, 2018

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On a mission to support higher education everywhere

IUPUI delegation and colleagues from Walailak University stand in front of waterfall designed by Walailak President Sombat Thamrongthanyawong.

IUPUI delegation and colleagues from Walailak University stand in front of waterfall designed by Walailak President Sombat Thamrongthanyawong at Walailak Park, October 9, 2018

Last night at the Alumni Reception in Bangkok, several people from Walailak University joined the spirited conversation. This may not seem special, but it was. Walailak is 800 kilometers from Bangkok, roughly an hour and a half by plane. And one of the people who joined us was Walailak President Sombat Thamrongthanyawong.

With this remarkable gesture of friendship and hospitality, President Thamrongthanyawong welcomed the delegation and expressed his enthusiasm regarding our  forthcoming visit, which took place today. President Thamrongthanyawong has had a long history with IUPUI, including receiving an honorary doctorate at an IUPUI ceremony in 2013.

Indiana University President Michael McRobbie, right, confers upon Sombat Thamrongthanyawong an honorary degree during a ceremony in IUPUI's Hine Hall Auditorium Thursday, April 4, 2013. Sombat is President of Thailand's National Institute of Development Administration.

Indiana University President Michael McRobbie, right, confers upon Sombat Thamrongthanyawong an honorary degree during a ceremony in IUPUI’s Hine Hall Auditorium Thursday, April 4, 2013. Sombat is President of Thailand’s National Institute of Development Administration, October 9, 2018

The president’s incredible welcome continued throughout the day today when Assistant Professor Dr. Pongsathorn Dechatiwongse Na Ayutthaya met us at the Bangkok Airport and arranged for a quiet area where we could meet prior to our flight to Nakhon Si Thammarat where Walailak is located.

Upon our arrival on campus, our delegation was greeted with a formal reception line, a welcome dance performance, and a delicious Thai lunch. Each member of the delegation was presented with a phuang malai, a Thai floral garland that is a symbol of luck and respect. As with so much in life, these less formal moments—sharing food and conversations—serve to connect us to our Thai colleagues, creating a foundation of hospitality and friendship upon which we can continue to build.

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Three roads converge in and around Bangkok

Building on road between Bangkok Airport and downtown

This building sits along the road between Bangkok Airport and downtown and offers a good example of the architectural style seen in parts of Bangkok, October 8, 2018

Before we move forward into the first day of our visit, let’s step back into history. Indiana University’s connection to Thailand dates back to 1948, and over the years, IUPUI extended this relationship with a number of administrative visits to the country by Chancellor Bepko and others, a few details of which we will explore in the coming days.

For now, what excites me most was a detail found in IUPUI’s 1970 commencement program marking the occasion of our first graduation ceremony. There, listed among graduates, was Oravonna Utaisen, who earned her Master of Science in Nursing and is the first IUPUI graduate from Thailand following the campus’s official founding. Ms. Utaisen, who went on to play an important role as director of the Thai Red Cross Society College of Nursing, was also the recipient of the 1987 Florence Nightingale Medal. If you followed the trip blog for IUPUI’s delegation to Mexico, you may recall that the School of Nursing at IUPUI had the first graduate from Mexico.

Path 1: Science, technology, and KMUTT

Now back to the visit to Thailand.

The IUPUI delegation’s first day in Thailand followed three different though intersecting paths.

For most members of the delegation, the day started at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT). Located in Thonburi, the former capital of Thailand, KMUTT ranks in the Top 5 for Research and Top 10 for Teaching by the Thai Ministry of Education.

IUPUI delegation meets with administrators at KMUTT

IUPUI delegation meets with administrators at KMUTT

With research strengths in architecture, bioresources, energy, engineering, environment, linguistics, science, and technology, KMUTT was designated as one of nine National Research Universities of Thailand by the Office of the Higher Education Commission in 2010.

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IUPUI builds on long & productive history of partnership in Thailand

ยินดีต้อนรับ and welcome to the IUPUI Goes to Thailand 2018 trip blog.

In a little more than a week, IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar will be leading a delegation of campus leaders to build on our longstanding collaborations with Thai universities and other educational and research partners.  This will be the first international trip to occur during IUPUI’s 50th Anniversary year, so it is particularly auspicious as a milestone, indicating how far our campus has come in our first 50 years and the strong partnerships that we continue to forge both across Indiana and around the world.

In addition to the chancellor and staff, the delegation will include:

As with all other international delegations, this one will focus on building research and educational partnerships, enhancing study abroad opportunities and reconnecting with alumni. These goals reinforce the university’s global mission as presented in the Bicentennial Strategic Plan, and they also build on IUPUI’s rich history with Thai universities and other institutions of research and higher education.

A strong history

That history dates back at least to the 1950s when Walter Johnson and Henry Graham from the School of Social Work were part of an IU mission in Thailand. They were based at the University of Thammasat in Bangkok and helped Thammasat develop its social work program. They also worked with social service organizations in Bangkok. The head of the IU mission was Joseph Sutton, who later was the IU president at the time of the creation of IUPUI.

In the 1970s, Howard Schaller, who would later serve as IUPUI executive vice chancellor, was in charge of the Ford Foundation office in Bangkok, further strengthening our campus’s connection to Thailand.

Since 1990, IUPUI official visits to Thailand have helped to celebrate at Chulalongkorn University’s 75th anniversary and have focused on extending partnerships in dentistry, philanthropy, and other areas, including student recruiting.

William Plater (second from right) visited Bangkok, Thailand, in 1987 on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the National Institute of Development Administration, which IU had helped found. Here he stands with NIDA officials and his mentor Howard Schaller (far right)

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