Thai university honors UMSL chancellor

UMSL Chancellor Tom George (right) receives an honorary doctorate in education for local development from HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, heir to the Thai throne. The honorary degree was conferred by Phranakohn Rajabhat University in Bangkok, Thailand, which has collaborated with UMSL since 2006 in the exchange of people and ideas. (Photo courtesy of Phranakohn Rajabhat University)

As chancellor of the University of Missouri–St. Louis, Tom George awards honorary degrees to notable individuals each year. Last week he was on the receiving end of an honorary doctorate in education for local development from Phranakohn Rajabhat University in Bangkok, Thailand. The honor was presented for UMSL’s commitment to community engagement and extensive civic partnerships under George’s leadership.

HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn, heir to the Thai throne, presented him with the degree. The formal commencement ceremony took place at the Suan Umporn Palace in Bangkok where 3,000 students received degrees.

George, who leads 10 commencement ceremonies a year at UMSL, said this one was a bit different than those at home.

“The prince of the kingdom stood behind a wall of flowers and presented the honorary degree to me and then each of the graduates,” he said. “I was the first one in line, and he smiled. The main Bangkok newspaper the next day showed a picture of him awarding me the degree, and people noted that the prince seldom smiles in public.”

George said UMSL has had an official agreement with Phranakohn Rajabhat University since 2006 centered around expanding access to higher education, new curriculum, new programs and the exchange of people and ideas.

“It’s been a very active collaboration with students, faculty and administrators going back and forth,” he said. “Once a year we hold research conferences where faculty and undergraduates present papers. This partnership is an established, proven, multicultural, international education experience.”

Founded in 1892, Phranakohn Rajabhat University was Thailand’s first training school for teachers in primary grades. In 1903 the curriculum expanded in response to the demand for secondary school teachers. Over the last century, the university’s mission has grown along with its campus. Today, in addition to education, Phranakohn Rajabhat University offers degrees in humanities and social sciences, industrial technology, management science and sciences and technology.


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