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Last modified: Thursday, March 21, 2013

Indiana University to present leading Thai scholar Sombat Thamrongthanyawong with honorary doctorate

March 21, 2013

Editors: Those interested in attending the degree conferral ceremony are encouraged to RSVP here.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- During a visit to two Indiana University campuses, Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, president of Thailand's leading graduate-level educational institution, will receive an honorary doctorate.

Thamrongthanyawong, Sombat

Sombat Thamrongthanyawong

Print-Quality Photo

Sombat, president of National Institute of Development Administration in Thailand, will receive an honorary doctorate of humane letters at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 4 in the Hine Hall Auditorium at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, 850 W. Michigan St.

The event is part of a three-day visit by Sombat and a Thai delegation to IU Bloomington and IUPUI on April 3-6.

"Dr. Sombat is an outstanding internationally known scholar and researcher who has dedicated himself to the creation of opportunities for the people of Thailand through his leadership of NIDA and his service to numerous key Thai public enterprises," said IU President Michael A. McRobbie. "Indiana University is deeply grateful to him for fostering a longstanding partnership between our two institutions, and we are very pleased to recognize, with an IU honorary doctorate, his notable contributions to higher education and to the people of Thailand."

NIDA was established in 1966 as part of His Majesty 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 MUCIA, 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, M. L. Pin Malakul. The relationship between the two institutions has continued over the years, with many collaborations and exchanges.

Last May, IU President Michael A. McRobbie visited Thailand and delivered an address to Thai educational leaders at the NIDA in Bangkok. McRobbie then presented to Sombat the Thomas Hart Benton Medal, given to individuals who have achieved a level of distinction in public office or service and have exemplified the values of IU.

McRobbie will be joined by Charles R. Bantz, IUPUI chancellor and IU executive vice president; David Zaret, IU vice president for international affairs; and Patrick O'Meara, chair of the Center for International Education and Development Assistance.

A reception will immediately follow the event.

Dubbed a "Rising World Leader" by Time magazine, Sombat is NIDA's 12th president. After earning a Ph.D. in public administration from NIDA, he began his teaching career there in 1989. Since then, he has vigorously pursued his research interests, which include politics, administration, public policy and the political culture of the middle class in Thailand.

Because of the sheer volume of outstanding research that he has conducted, he was promoted to the rank of professor in just eight years, a remarkable academic achievement among Thai scholars.

Sombat has served on the boards of key Thai public enterprises, including the National Housing Authority, the Thai Maritime Navigation Co. and the Forest Industry Organization; as chair of the Secondary Mortgage Corp.; and as a member of Thailand's National Legislative Assembly.

Before earning his Ph.D., Sombat earned a bachelor's degree from Kasetsart University and a master's degree from Chulalongkorn University. While at Kasetsart University, he was presented with a medal for academic excellence by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. In 2005, Sombat received the Kasetsart Savant Award from that university.

Although NIDA was originally established to support development in Thailand only, its objectives now address the development issues of other countries in the region as well. Supported by the Thai government, NIDA is one of very few institutions in Thailand that offer graduate programs exclusively.

NIDA's extensive service orientation is apparent in its responsiveness to community needs, its continuing education programs, and its consulting services, training activities and research. Recognizing the increasing interdependence of nations across the globe and responding to the priorities of Thailand's Plan for Higher Education, NIDA seeks to meet the ever-increasing challenges of international cooperation, understanding and service.