The University of North Texas will provide doctoral instruction to the faculty
members from 35 of Thailand's Rajabhat Universities, which are seeking to improve
their academic credentials and provide more comprehensive educational opportunities
to their nation.
President Gretchen M. Bataille signs the agreement that will provide
doctoral training to faculty at Thai Rajabhat Universities.
UNT President Gretchen M. Bataille and 35 Thai Rajabhat university presidents
signed an agreement July 9 in Bangkok that will provide funding from Thailand
to support faculty members' study in doctoral programs that will be coordinated
jointly by UNT and the Thai universities. The signing ceremony was convened by
Krissanapong Kirtikara, Secretary General for the Commission of Higher Education,
Ministry of Education.
The Thai government intends for more than 30 percent of the Rajabhat faculty
members to have doctoral degrees by 2014.
"This exciting new partnership between the universities of Thailand and UNT stands
to make a tremendous difference in the quality of education and life for the
people of Thailand, while also significantly enriching the educational experience
for all UNT students," Bataille says. "It is my hope that UNT will engage in
more of these partnerships, which seek to improve our global community and strengthen
the quality of UNT's academic fiber.
"I am grateful to Dr. Panu Sittiwong, who is deputy president for international
affairs at Uttaradit Rajabhat University and a proud UNT alumnus, for driving
the effort to connect UNT with Thailand in this way." After the July 9 signing,
Bataille met with Thailand's Interim Prime Minister, Gen. Surayud Chulanont,
to discuss the importance of this partnership to the development and growth of
higher education in Thailand. Then, the presidents participated in planning
sessions to discuss how the universities will work together to provide doctoral
education to the Thai faculty members, as well as online English education for
Thai students and faculty.
Bataille says it is hoped that a project director position soon will be in place
at UNT to oversee the placement of Thai faculty into doctoral programs that best
suit their teaching assignments in Thailand. While studying at UNT, the Thai
faculty will participate in workshops designed to enhance teaching skills and
academic leadership. Because of the high volume of students, it is likely that
some students will be placed in programs at other American universities.
Further planning of how the program will work will continue when the Thai university
presidents visit UNT the week of Homecoming, which is Oct. 27.
In addition, plans are being made to develop opportunities for both UNT and Thai
students beyond the doctoral education joint-study program. Possible examples
- sending students in UNT's Teaching English as a Second Language program
to teach and conduct research in Thai universities
- sending Thai students in
higher education administration to UNT to "shadow" administrators and participate
in university governance activities.
More than 100 UNT alumni gathered July 9 in Bangkok to meet UNT's president and the other administrators, including Greg McQueen, senior vice president for Advancement, James C. Scott, dean of the College of Music, and Rebecca Smith-Murdock, interim executive director of International Studies and Programs, who traveled to the country for the agreement signing ceremony.
There are more than 1,000 UNT alumni in Thailand, many of whom hold influential
positions in education, business and government.
In the 1970s and 1980s, there were as many as 200 Thai students studying at UNT
each semester. From 1992 to 1998, the Thai Embassy placed Royal Thai Scholars
in summer graduate preparation programs in UNT's Intensive English Language Institute.
This program resumed this summer and 35 Royal Thai Scholars are currently studying
at UNT. A similar program also takes place at the University of Delaware, the
only other university selected to host Royal Thai Scholars.
"It is because of UNT's long and deep connections with Thailand, and the influence
of our alumni in that country, that UNT was selected as the exclusive partner
to provide doctoral education to the faculty members at the Rajabhat Universities," Bataille
In addition to the education ties to Thailand, UNT enjoys a unique musical relationship
with His Majesty the King of Thailand.
In 2004, UNT distinguished alumnus Charn Uswachoke arranged for the One O'Clock
Lab Band to visit Thailand to perform for the King in Hua Hin Palace, where UNT
presented His Majesty with an honorary doctorate in music. The band also presented
classes to music students at Chulalongkorn University and performed a sold-out
benefit concert for the King's Charities.
His Majesty the King of Thailand first experienced the UNT One O'Clock Lab Band
when he visited President Lyndon B. Johnson at the White House and the band performed.
UNT's jazz program is the nation's first and is consistently ranked the best.