Indiana State University Newsroom

Visiting Thai professors leave Indiana State with more than memories

June 4, 2008

When Siri-Orn Champatong joined nine other university faculty members from Thailand in traveling to Indiana State University for a three-week international business seminar, she was continuing a family tradition.

Her father, Saiyut Champatong, completed a bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana State in 1956 and a master’s degree in 1961. Siri-Orn remembers the ISU T-shirts she would get from “Uncle Shipla,” ISU professor Otto Shipla, who brought the shirts as gifts during frequent visits to Thailand from the 1960s through the ‘80s.

While the T-shirts represent priceless memories, Siri-Orn Champatong now has something else of considerable value from Indiana State • first-hand knowledge of American business practices and American business school teaching methods.

“We learned a lot, particularly in economics, finance and banking, communications and marketing management,” said Siri-Orn Champatong, a lecturer in the faculty of management science at Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University in Bangkok. “We had a good opportunity to learn, to experience, to shadow with ISU staff and we went on field trips that opened our minds.”

Those field trips included visits to such Terre Haute businesses as First Financial Bank, the Recognition Plus division of Woodburn Graphics, MillerWhite and WilliamsRandall as well as a trek to the Chicago Board of Trade and Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Classroom sessions included accounting, marketing, writing, communications and international relations.

One noticeable difference between higher education in the U.S. and Thailand can be found in the freedom enjoyed by students, said Sutha Pongthawornpinyo, lecturer in communication arts.

“In Thailand, students keep their opinions in their own minds,” Pongthawornpinyo said. “In the United States, it is different. Everyone can open their minds and do everything they want to do.”

In addition to learning from Indiana State faculty, the seminar included experts from several other universities and international organizations, thanks to Web-based video conferencing.

Thai professors were especially impressed with the level of technology in use at Indiana State University. They hope to implement more technology for use by their own students.

“Maybe we could have a class online,” Pongthawornpinyo said. Struck by the cooperative spirit of professors and students at Indiana State, the Thai faculty members also would like to implement American-style teaching practices.

“Among our staff, the objective is that everyone wants to know the new technology and how to teach in the American way. The staff at ISU is very warm and friendly. That is one thing that the Thai people and many other people in the world like,” said Apichart Kampoomprasert, deputy dean of the faculty of management science at Suan Sunandha Rajabhat.

“The teacher is not like a teacher for our students, but we can share,” Pongthawornpinyo said. “We can have experiences together. Students have to learn from teachers, but sometimes teachers can also learn from students.”

An ISU College of Business faculty member who helped coordinate the Thai delegation’s seminar says Indiana State and Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University have rich potential for collaboration in various areas ranging from research to student and faculty exchange.

“Their visit provided me with a first hand knowledge of many aspects of Thai culture and has perked my interest in visiting Thailand and SSRU in the near future to further discuss ways in which we could develop mutually beneficial relationships,” said Aruna Chandra, associate professor of management.

"College of Business faculty very much welcomed the opportunity to interact with our colleagues from Thailand,” said Herschel Chait, associate professor of management and chair of the College of Business’ organizational department. “These types of programs expand our college's international reach and, in the long run, these close personal connections will benefit our programs and our students.”

The seminar with the Thai faculty members also included College of Arts and Sciences faculty from the departments of communication and economics. Indiana State’s working relationship with colleges in Thailand goes back more than 50 years, to the days when Saiyut Champatong and Otto Shipla traveled between Thailand and the U.S. ISU has formal international agreements with more than a dozen Thai universities and cooperative ventures have extended well beyond business to include fine arts, music, nursing, and languages

Thai visitors The Recognition Plus unit of Woodburn Graphics in Terre Haute was among American businesses university faculty members from Thailand visited during a three-week international business seminar organized by the Indiana State University College of Business. ISU/Kara Berchem
Additional photos of the Thai delegation's visit are available in the Photo gallery

Contact: Herschel Chait, associate professor of management and chair, organizational department, Indiana State University, 812-237-2086 or

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or

Story Highlights

Ten university faculty members from Thailand learned about American business and teaching practices during a three-week international business seminar at Indiana State University. One member of the delegation was continuing a family tradition of international exchange that dates back more than 50 years.

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