Global Impact: Indiana University and Institution-Building

National Institute on Development Administration
Bangkok, Thailand
May 21, 2012

Introduction

Thank you, President Sombat. 

I am very pleased to be here today and to have the opportunity to speak to you.

Thank you for your generous hospitality. Indiana University and the Kingdom of Thailand have enjoyed over five decades of productive partnership and I am very glad to visit your country, as the first IU President to do so in 15 years, and to explore ways in which we might renew these partnerships for the new century.

In December of 2010, we were privileged to have Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn visit Indiana, and we were very pleased to present her with an honorary doctorate from Indiana University. I very much look forward to meeting with Her Royal Highness again tomorrow.

Just over two weeks ago, we were privileged to have the Honorable David Carden, who is the United States’ first resident Ambassador to ASEAN—the Association of Southeast Asian Nations—of which, of course, Thailand is an important member, serve as the speaker at our Graduate Commencement ceremony in Bloomington. Ambassador Carden is an alumnus of Indiana University, and our students graduating with advanced degrees were inspired by his remarks and also gained a greater understanding of this part of the world. I also look forward to again meeting with Ambassador Carden again next week in Jakarta. 

I also look forward to visiting Chulalongkorn University tomorrow, and to meeting with many of Indiana University’s alumni who live in Thailand later this evening. 

Indiana University and Thailand: Decades of Partnership

Let me first say a few words about the very close relationship that Indiana University has enjoyed for decades with the nation of Thailand.

In his autobiography Being Lucky, Indiana University’s legendary 11th president, Herman B Wells, wrote with deep warmth, affection, and pride about the longstanding and productive partnership between IU and the people of Thailand. That connection dates back to 1948 and is one of the longest official relationships IU has with any global partner. 

Indiana University and Thailand have enjoyed more than 60 years of cooperation and friendship. Over the years, this partnership has yielded a generation of senior-level Thai administrators, including a number of college presidents, who have received advanced training at Indiana University.  It has led to stronger teacher education and public administration programs within Thailand.

IU was fortunate to have been involved at the inception of the Institute of Public Administration at Thammasat University. In 1955, IU signed a contract sponsored by the Agency for International Development through the U.S. Foreign Operations Administration to establish the Institute of Public Administration at Thammasat. The objectives of the project were to strengthen the academic program of the university in public administration; to expand the research, extension, and staff training programs of the university; to develop in-service training programs and facilities at the university for government officials; and to provide training in the United States for Thai students.

Indiana University’s chief of party at Thammasat was Joseph Sutton, a professor of government who later served as the 13th president of IU and who certainly benefitted from his experiences in Thailand.

A decade after helping to establish the IPA at Thammasat, IU was again fortunate to participate in the creation of the National Institute for Development Administration. NIDA was, of course, established by royal proclamation in 1966, and was given university status a short time later. Since that time, NIDA has trained thousands of the Thai government’s top executives and diplomats for service across the country and around the world.

At one time in the 1980s, three-fifths of the governors of Thailand’s 72 provinces held degrees from either IU or the IPA. IPA and its successor, NIDA, had, by 1986, educated 3,300 master’s graduates and trained 1,500 of the Thai government’s top executives, including the prime minister, and more than a thousand of its diplomats.1

Between 1955 and 1962, more than 45 Indiana University faculty travelled to Thailand, 31 of whom were on two-year assignments.

John Ryan, who became the 14th president of Indiana University in 1971, was in Thailand between 1955 and 1957. On display today is the title page of his Ph.D. thesis, for which he did research in Bangkok.

Over the same period in the late 1950s and early 1960s, 41 Thai students came to the United States for advanced training in public administration. We are proud to note that 35 of those 41 students studied at Indiana University. Their presence on campus and in the classroom greatly enriched academic and social life on the campus.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Indiana University helped to establish sixteen teacher colleges in Thailand, many of which are now four-year, comprehensive universities. 

In the 1990s, IU partnered with Thailand’s dental schools to promote the development of graduate dental education in Thailand. Under this agreement, doctoral students trained at IU and then returned to Thailand to train others. 

Our current partnerships with Thai universities include:

  • faculty and student exchanges between Ramkhamhaeng University and the IU School of Optometry,
  • exchanges of scholars between IU and Chulalongkorn University,
  • an agreement that provides for shared research and the development of graduate education and continuing studies between Chulalongknorn University and the IU School of Nursing,
  • agreements between the School of Engineering and Technology on our IUPUI campus and the King Mongut Institute of Technology and Mahasarakham University, and, of course,
  • our ongoing partnership with NIDA.

The International Aspect of Universities

These partnerships between Indiana University and institutions in Thailand serve to remind us that research universities all over the world are international institutions. They are today and they always have been.

Even a cursory examination of the history of the great universities of history shows that what they taught and studied knew no geographical boundaries but encompassed all human knowledge, and that their faculty and students came from all over the world from all cultures and social backgrounds.

The same is true today. Scholarship and research in just about every discipline from anthropology to zoology is truly international—a process hugely accelerated by the Internet. There is, in general, no such thing as American anthropology or Thai zoology—just anthropology and zoology (though there may be contending schools of theory and analysis within these disciplines). This scholarship and research takes place within a global research or scholarly environment where it is, in general, facts and reason that determines progress, not national origin. Hence the quality of the programs and research at universities is determined by the quality of the faculty and students who contribute to them, and they can come from anywhere in the world. And fundamental to research, especially in the sciences is collaboration, whether it be two co-authors on opposite sides of the world, or a group of thousands from dozens of countries working with some major experimental facility. 

Today, more than ever, a university must be part of the wider world. 

But, the race to “go global” has introduced new and difficult challenges. With the “flattening” of the world—to use New York Times columnist Tom Friedman’s memorable phrase—American higher education finds itself immersed in an international economy that, in recent years, has had an enormous effect on other industries, including government and public policy, manufacturing, medicine, and information technology. Within this global context, the world’s colleges and universities must share the world’s burden in addressing the most important global issues of our time, such as trade, energy, information technology, access to water resources, and population movement. 

This, then, is the present context and the historical context concerning international engagement in which research universities work. 

Indiana University is one of the largest public university systems in the United States with a budget of around $3 billion, eight campuses around Indiana, eight medical education centers and a number of smaller facilities. Our close partner, IU Health, is the largest hospital system in the state of Indiana and one of the largest in the United States, with around 3,000 beds, 2 million outpatient visits, and over 100,000 admissions. 

As of last fall, Indiana University enrolled over 110,000 students (of whom about 7,000 are international students) and we employ over 6,000 faculty and 11,000 staff. Our flagship campus is in Bloomington, Indiana, with over 42,000 students; and our urban research campus in Indianapolis has over 30,000 students. The majority of our international engagement takes place on these two campuses—though there is some on all campuses—and the faculty on all campuses are internationally diverse. 

Of course, we seek not merely to allow international engagement to happen randomly, but to seek to provide it with structure and direction through a plan that will maximize its benefits to the core missions of our institutions of education, research and service. 

The key components of Indiana University’s international plan are:

  • encouraging our students to study abroad and creating opportunities for them to do so—study abroad is a critical component of any student’s education;
  • the recruitment of highly-qualified international students to Indiana University;
  • promoting and supporting global connections for faculty research;
  • the development of global bilateral partnerships with peer and complementary teaching and research institutions, and
  • international outreach and service in the form of institution-building—which will be a main focus of my talk.

In the early years of its development, Indiana University, like all American universities, was greatly assisted by the older, European universities, particularly those of the United Kingdom and Germany. Many of our faculty in the early 20th century had earned their Ph.D.s abroad before most American universities were equipped to offer doctoral degrees. After a widespread period of enormous growth, American universities, during the second half of the 20th century, realized that they had an obligation to repay their debts to the world of scholarship by extending assistance to newer institutions in developing countries.

Since the post-World War II era, under the leadership of president Herman B Wells, IU has been involved in a wide variety of international development projects. (Here you see a map indicating the locations of some of IU’s major institution-building projects. You can see that they truly span the globe.) The majority of these projects have involved providing technical assistance designed to create—or reform and strengthen—key institutions. Most often, these institutions have been universities, teacher training institutions, or research programs, but they have also included parliaments, government training centers, ministries of education, and, more recently, national information technology capabilities.

Today, I will spend some time sketching Indiana University’s rich history of institution-building around the globe. I will also discuss these endeavors in the context of some of the challenges facing institutions of higher learning in the 21st century.

Exchanges and Partnerships

I mentioned that part of Indiana University’s plan for international engagement is the development of key global partnerships with peer or complementary teaching and research institutions.

Research universities everywhere are vigorously pursuing exchanges and partnerships with their international peers. Partnerships at the university level represent in some ways a dimension of global diplomacy with tremendous potential impact. Indiana University has a large number of formal affiliations with universities throughout the world. (Here, again, you see a map that shows that these partnerships reach around the world.) Our more than 200 exchange agreements are serving the university well and the history and importance of those partnerships provide excellent models that should direct our ability to replicate this success elsewhere. Such relationships are vitally important to our research and education missions. They support faculty research, provide venues for study abroad programs and are of great importance in our faculty and student recruitment efforts. But it is not merely the relationships between institutions that are of importance. The relationships that develop between people as part of these global collaborations are vitally important, in both good times and in bad. In bad times, these relationships can help to ameliorate international issues. In good times, they can help to rapidly build productive relationships between nations.

Global Impact: Indiana University and Institution-Building

Universities in the United States have for decades contributed in major ways to institution-building in other countries, helping to build, for example, government institutions and universities in developing and emerging countries, or in countries devastated by war or disease. These efforts fulfill the service mission of the university by helping to alleviate the suffering of the human family, and the American faculty and students who participate inevitably return with greatly enhanced skills and experience and excellent relationships in those countries.

Indiana University’s history of institution-building is, in fact, so rich that a study over twenty years by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs ranked IU second nationally in the number of international partnership grants awarded.

Indiana University has provided technical assistance in countries that are as diverse as, Malaysia, Peru, Brazil, Ghana, Liberia, Croatia, Macedonia, Egypt, Afghanistan, the Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and, of course, Thailand. We have also established a new center that will allow us to more systematically address such opportunities for global partnership and institution-building in the future.

IU has accomplished a great deal and is uniquely poised to build on the university’s outstanding legacy. Our history of institution-building has had a profound influence on the intellectual life of Indiana University.

For more than fifty years, IU has engaged in global outreach to nearly every continent and this has had immeasurable impact on our students and faculty. Generations of our faculty have had opportunities through institutional grants to apply IU’s expertise and experience in higher education. At the same time, our faculty and staff have been challenged to bridge theory and practice in cross-cultural contexts in the social sciences, applied health and life sciences, public affairs, business entrepreneurship, approaches to reading and learning in primary and secondary education, and other fields.

Students have come to our campuses from almost every country and region to complete their degrees and have returned to serve their home countries and universities. Our students have travelled to many of these countries or encountered fellow students in classrooms from distant places. This two-way experience has made IU a truly international university.

Institution-building projects have also contributed in fundamental ways to long-term, sustainable development in many different countries—bringing stability to conflict-ridden areas, promoting improved health outcomes, and stimulating economic growth through workforce development. At the same time, there have been tangible returns to the state of Indiana, the United States, and various other countries because of the real economic impact resulting from improving the education of a larger number of people.

IU's Rich History of Institution-Building

More than sixty years ago, Herman B Wells recognized the importance of institution-building relationships. In his autobiography, Being Lucky, he wrote: “…We realized that by taking an active part in these international projects, the benefits would be two-way: while lending whatever help we could to institutions abroad, we would be greatly enriching the store of experience, knowledge, and professional competence of our faculty participants in the assistance programs, who, upon their return, would bring to the campus a comparative view that would stimulate the atmosphere of learning in the university.”2

Over the ensuing decades, the truth of President Wells’ words has remained: Indiana University has gained much from our international partnerships. We greatly appreciate the opportunities we have had to work in partnership with NIDA, Chulalongkorn University, many other institutions of higher learning in Thailand, and the people of Thailand.

The rich history of Indiana University’s efforts in global institution-building, principally in higher education, dates back to the role President Wells played in establishing the Free University of Berlin just after the Second World War—now one of Germany’s finest universities. Wells served at the time as the cultural affairs liaison for the U.S. Military Government in Germany with responsibility for overseeing the rebuilding of the German educational system, and resurrecting its newspapers, media, and culture in general. Many German students in the Western Sector of post-war Berlin wanted their own university, and Wells played a major role in smoothing the way through the military bureaucracy for the creation of the Free University of Berlin. In 2010, I signed a memorandum of understanding with the Free University of Berlin, which renewed our relationship and expanded our partnership into new areas of cooperation.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Indiana University was involved in: 

  • the development of the National Institute for Public Administration in Indonesia,
  • the development of faculty and curriculum for Kabul University’s School of Education,
  • other faculty and curriculum development projects in business management in Bangladesh and Peru, 
  • and in helping to develop local governments in Ghana and Nigeria. 

In 1973, two of our faculty members, Vincent and Elinor Ostrom co-founded the Workshop on Political Theory and Policy Analysis, an interdisciplinary research center that has done extraordinary work in development and institution-building. Incidentally, Professor Elinor Ostrom became the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics when she received the prize in 2009. This year, she was named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Professor Ostrom has done extensive field research around the world, including in Southeast Asia, and she has presented her work at conferences here in Thailand. The Workshop that she and her husband founded gained a world-wide reputation within academe and with the US Agency for International Development for its work on common property theory. The Workshop brings together scholars and researchers from around the world from various disciplines to investigate the ways in which human behavior is shaped by institutions and incentives and to analyze public policies that affect people's lives and the world in which we live. The Workshop was recently renamed the “Vincent and Elinor Ostrom Workshop in Political Theory and Policy Analysis” in honor of its founding directors.

The fifteen-year period from 1980 to the mid-1990s saw a continuation of IU’s efforts in institution-building. In 1985, IU served as the lead institution in helping to establish the Institut Teknologi MARA Cooperative Program, a ten-year, $53 million project which provided a two-year undergraduate curriculum in Malaysia for more than 5,000 government-sponsored students who subsequently transferred to more than 160 U.S. universities, including Indiana University, to finish their undergraduate degrees.

In the same period, one of our professors established the Anthropological Center for the Study of Global Environmental Change, in partnership with the Workshop on Political Theory and Policy Analysis. The project received grants from the U.S. Department of Energy for studies of deforestation in the Amazon and Africa with researchers based at universities in Brazil and West Africa.

In 1989, the Indiana University School of Medicine and the Moi University School of Medicine in Eldoret, Kenya, joined together to train future generations of health care providers on both continents by establishing the AMPATH program. Students from Indiana have internships in Kenya and students from Kenya, in turn, are able to receive training in Indiana. The two universities have created one of Africa’s largest and most comprehensive HIV/AIDS control  programs which now includes a hospital, farms, twenty three clinical sites and thirty satellite sites. In 2007, the program was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Incidentally, Craig Brater, the dean of the IU School of Medicine, who has been one of the AMPATH program’s most ardent champions, was inducted into the Royal College of Physicians of Thailand last year. As you may know, The Royal College of Physicians inducts only one non-Thai citizen each year.

Of, course, as is the case with all of our international partnerships, our faculty and students gain great benefit from participating in the AMPATH program. Our medical interns, for example, learn to practice in areas without high-tech resources, and may go on to practice medicine in rural areas of the United States.

In 1997, IU was involved in the development of the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and we have remained closely involved with the institution. Activities funded by USAID and the Open Society have included: 

  • curriculum development,
  • the development of libraries,
  • degree training,
  • faculty and administrative exchanges,
  • helping to provide internet access, and 
  • collaboration on research and publications.

In 2001, IU was selected to assist South East European University in Tetovo, Macedonia, in establishing its curriculum and administrative structures, enhancing academic and instructional skills, faculty and curriculum development, administrative support and library development. A major objective was to promote economic development and to introduce modern curricula in fields such as business, public administration, education and communications in this war-torn country. Our relationship continues through an endowment established by SEEU to foster IU-SEEU relations.

A four-year program to rebuild the life sciences at the University of Liberia was launched in March 2012, at a ceremony in the capital city of Monrovia. A $7.2 million USAID Higher Education Development Grant was awarded to IU, the University of Liberia, and partner universities in the United States. There is a lively exchange of people and ideas from the two universities.

Another recent grant for the Higher Education Leadership and Management project in Indonesia will emphasize the development of higher education leadership graduate programs at three Indonesian universities. The goal is to increase the capacity of Indonesian universities to better plan for a national expansion of access to higher education and to improve the quality and relevance of teaching and research being conducted in Indonesia.

Indiana University has received major grants to restore and improve the education system in Afghanistan. IU Bloomington faculty have focused on training current and future Afghani teachers in contemporary teaching methods. At least twenty-four Afghanis have travelled to Bloomington for Master of Education degrees. Hundreds of current and future faculty members have participated.

There are many other examples of such activities. They range from the efforts of IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs to strengthen the parliamentary process in the Ukraine, to the IU McKinney School of Law’s work with legal education in Egypt.

Our guiding principles have always been to engage in bi-lateral activity, to share ideas and knowledge, and to assist with the building of universities and other institutions. We have approached these institution-building efforts as partnerships. We consult closely with specialists on the country and the region—and we consult closely with our institutional development partners overseas in order to take into account their needs and realities.

While Indiana University’s efforts in the kinds of international partnerships I have described have led to measurable benefits around the globe, Indiana University has also gained much from participating in them.

An outstanding example is John Ryan, who served with great distinction as Indiana University’s president for 16 years. Dr. Ryan came to Thailand as part of a development project, but, while he was here, was able to conduct research for his dissertation on Bangkok’s government and administration.

In nearly all of our institution-building partnerships, there have also been strong connections with our highly-ranked international area studies programs. At IU, our area studies programs specialize in Africa, Russia and East Europe, Central Asia, East Asia, the Middle East, West Europe, and global studies. At Indiana University, we believe that area studies programs have indeed helped to enrich our understanding of the world and they have been central to our mission of research and learning. Interaction with our area studies program—and their prominence—has contributed to IU’s success in institution-building. On the national level, they have contributed to IU’s international reputation and have often served U.S. diplomatic needs and interests.

As we embark on future institution-building projects, it is essential to have a realistic understanding of strengths and our ability to deliver. There is a need for constant review and reassessment. Such endeavors reflect national needs and policies, but they but also require institutional energy, focus, and resources. As with other international activities, we must plan carefully in order to determine which projects are best suited to faculty expertise, student interest, and national self-interest. We must ask: which projects help the university maximize its strengths on a global scale while also serving the nation or broader global community? Of course, we also have much to learn about development approaches from universities such as yours.

As we look to the future of our institutional partnerships, we also want to be mindful of the role that information technology can play. The Pan-Asian institute, which was formed by Indiana University with the Australian National University in 2009, and which we operate jointly, has pointed the way to exciting new possibilities and opportunities in this regard. IU and the Australian National University share extensive and complimentary expertise that covers a wide range of Asian countries, especially those in ASEAN. Drawing on ANU’s expertise in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam, and on IU’s strong research programs in Central Asian studies and languages, we are able to provide students and faculty alike opportunities for longer-term, in-depth educational and research projects. This innovative bilateral venture provides a systematic framework for extended faculty visits and exchanges, additional overseas studies opportunities, and language coursework conducted through interactive video. This last element draws upon the technical infrastructure we have been implementing at Indiana University over the course of the past 15 years that facilitates our collaborative efforts. In fact, much of the planning for this institute took place over interactive video. 

Challenges Facing the Global Research University in the 21st Century

In all that we do, IU must not only respond to but take advantage of opportunities to educate, research, and operate in more efficient and effective ways. We must embrace the changing needs of students and faculty in an increasingly globalized world, with opportunities, competition, and expectations that simply did not confront previous generations.

With that in mind, we recently carried out a study that examined:

  • whether we are offering the right kinds of degrees and educational opportunities that one should expect of a university that aspires to be one of the finest universities of the 21st century, 
  • whether the structure and organization of the academic units at IU allow this to happen in the most effective way,
  • whether there are areas in which we should be considering new schools or other units in which our peer institutions nationally and internationally have already established flourishing academic programs, and
  • whether some of our present schools should be transformed in ways that allow them to take better advantage of some of the major trends seen around the world.

As a result of that study, we are now pursuing several new initiatives, all of which will be relevant to our international engagement plans.

First, we are moving to develop a School of International Studies at Indiana University to build on the extensive expertise in our Title VI centers and our other language and foreign studies departments. We teach around 80 languages—perhaps more than any other university in the United States. The School of International Studies will further strengthen our activities in these areas and provide new educational opportunities for our students.

A truly magnificent design has been developed for the International Studies Building, and, once this building is complete, for the first time in the history of the university, our outstanding and extensive research and teaching on global cultures and processes will be housed in a single building, offering exciting possibilities for new interdisciplinary collaborations and cross-national projects.

We are also working to establish a School of Philanthropy, based on our internationally-acclaimed Center on Philanthropy. Through basic and applied research, the center creates new knowledge that increases understanding of philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. Its credibility and methodological rigor set the standard for the field.

Philanthropy has been fundamental to the success and the strength of our university system in the United States. We have been very fortunate at Indiana University to count on the generous philanthropic support of our alumni and friends, especially in the last few years when public universities in the United States have faced budget constraints and at a time when most of the world was experiencing slow economic growth.

There has, of course, been intense international interest in replicating the fundraising success of American universities. Our Center on Philanthropy has served as a model for the development of similar centers around the world—for example, in Turkey, Egypt, Israel, and China, just to name a few countries—and we fully expect that our new School of Philanthropy will continue to advise and partner with institutions around the world.

We are also drawing on our expertise in public health to establish two new distinct Schools of Public Health that promise to have a meaningful impact on the health of people of Indiana. On our Bloomington campus, the new School of Public Health will draw on the strengths of our current School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, the third-largest school on campus. The new Bloomington school will focus more on rural health issues, general wellness, and other areas that build on the existing strengths of HPER. On our IUPUI campus in Indianapolis, the new School of Public Health will grow from the Department of Public Health in the IU School of Medicine and will focus more on urban health issues and global health. 

And finally, as part of the study we conducted, we have established an Office of Online Education that will oversee the development and coordination of online education at IU. While our primary market for online education will be residents of the state of Indiana, in the future, programs that have particularly strong national and international reputations may develop markets beyond Indiana’s borders.

All of these initiatives reflect our dedication to the principles that have driven Indiana University towards progress for the past two centuries. Like your institutions we aspire to be among the best in the world, and so we renew our commitment to answering some of the most vexing questions about the world around us and to continue to build towards further excellence in all that we do.

As David J. Skorton, the president of Cornell University, recently wrote:

“One thing is apparent: No single college or university, acting alone, can achieve what is needed to solve global society’s growing ills. Working together, however, the research institutions of the United States and the rest of the developed world, in cooperation with those already in the field and in local leadership positions, can play a central role in helping countries that are struggling to meet the needs of their citizens. Acting together, we can improve local education, apply research and contribute our problem-solving skills.”3

Today, colleges and universities around the world are in the vanguard of a new international era in higher education. The resolution of pressing global issues that influence local circumstances requires intercultural and international understanding and competencies in every field. Ours is an era that demands multilateral and collaborative solutions to our shared problems.

This new international era of higher education will be an era of greater educational opportunity for all students; an era of deeper global collaboration and cooperation among universities around the world; and an era of stronger alliances in the interest of mutual progress. In short, this era will be the global future of higher education.

Honoring Dr. Sombat Thamrongthanyawong

I would like to conclude my remarks by recognizing the leadership of NIDA’s accomplished president, Dr. Sombat Thamrongthanyawong.

Named a “Rising World Leader” by Time magazine in 1974, Dr. Sombat has lived up to the potential the magazine saw in him back then. He was recognized by Time at the age of 23, and was the youngest of the 150 people named to the list.

Dr. Sombat was the first graduate in the doctoral program in Public Administration at NIDA, and he has gone on to serve the institution with great distinction.

An outstanding scholar, Dr. Sombat’s research interests run the gamut from Thai politics, administration and public policy, the politics of Great Britain, to the political culture of the Thai middle-class. He began his career teaching at NIDA in 1989, and his outstanding research efforts led to a rapid promotion to the rank of professorship.

In addition to his service to the academy, Dr. Sombat is recognized in Thai society for his service on a number of important boards and organizations. He has served as a member of the National Housing Authority, the Thai Maritime Navigation Company, and the Forest Industry Organization. He currently serves as the chair of the Secondary Mortgage Corporation and as a member of the National Legislative Assembly of Thailand.

As a junior student at Kasetsart University, he received from His Majesty the King, a medal for academic excellence. He went on to receive his bachelor’s degree in science from Kasetsart, and was named the university’s “Alumnus of the Year” in 2005. In 2008, he was named “Alumnus of the Year” by NIDA.

Today, I am very pleased to be able to add to those honors.

Bestowing the Benton Medal

Dr. Sombat, would you please join me at the podium?

Dr. Sombat, it is a great pleasure to be able to celebrate your achievements today.

You have dedicated yourself to the life of the mind, to world-class scholarship, and to creating opportunity for the people of Thailand through your leadership of NIDA and your service on the boards of numerous key Thai public enterprises. Indiana University is also deeply grateful to you for fostering the longstanding partnership between our two institutions.

To recognize distinction such as yours, Indiana University established the Thomas Hart Benton Medallion. It is the highest honor the president of Indiana University has the sole authority to bestow on a person external to the university, and it has been given to university leaders and friends around the world. This bronze medal features part of a mural by Thomas Hart Benton, one of America’s most renowned muralists. Painted in the 1930s, it is located in the IU Auditorium on our Bloomington, Indiana campus. The reverse side has the seal of the university. It symbolizes the aspirations and ideals that are the foundation of the search for knowledge.

So by the authority vested in me by the Trustees of Indiana University and in recognition of your distinguished contributions to higher education, and to the people of Thailand, Dr. Sombat Thanrongthanyawong, I present you with the Thomas Hart Benton Medallion.

Would you please join me in congratulating Dr. Sombat?

Source Notes

  1. Amara Raksasataya and Chirawan Bhakdbutr, “IU-Thai Partnership,” Indiana Alumni Magazine, September 1986, 10-11.
  2. Herman B Wells, Being Lucky: Reminiscences and Remembrances, (1980, IU Press) 236.
  3. David J. Skorton, “A Cornell University response to ‘A Question (about universities, global challenges, and an organizational-ethical dilemma),’” Global Higher Ed, May 8, 2010.