Indiana State University Newsroom

President of Thai university receives President’s Medal from ISU

May 18, 2012

Indiana State University on Friday honored the president of one of ISU's longtime partner universities in Thailand.

ISU President Daniel J. Bradley awarded the President's Medal to Sawarng Pupatwibul, president of Pibulsongkram Rajabhat University, for distinguished public service and outstanding achievement. Bradley recognized Pupatwibul for his work in developing the partnership that exists between the two universities. He has helped to create opportunities for students, faculty and staff to collaborate and foster a better understanding of each other, Bradley said.

"President Sawarng Pupatwibul has been instrumental in developing and supporting the collaboration that exists between our universities," Bradley said. "His leadership in building new opportunities for faculty and students has greatly strengthened our partnership."

Pupatwibul was part of a delegation of more than two dozen top administrators from Pibulsongkram who visited ISU. The group was traveling in the U.S., then scheduled the one-day stop at ISU to meet with faculty members to discuss current and potential projects.

"They're one of our strategic partners," said Zachariah Mathew, associate director of International Programs and Services. "We work closely with them, so this is one of those efforts to find the avenues where we can work together."

Faculty members and students from the two universities have worked together in multiple disciplines, including music and economics, said Chris McGrew, director of International Programs and Services. Last summer, four students and six professors from ISU visited Thailand, including Pibulsongkram, as part of the Environmental and Culturally Sustainable Local Economic Development initiative, or ECSLED.

"Our office does not create these exchanges out of nothing," McGrew said. "They really depend on faculty and departments in the university, and if there are faculty members that are interested in working in Thailand, our office can help facilitate some of those introductions in hope that some faculty members will accept an appealing invitation."

The Thai delegation's visit to ISU is the latest in a number of international visits. Last month, ISU hosted doctoral students from two Thai universities who visited the Wabash Valley to learn more about the American education system. At the same time, Bradley and Brian Kilp, professor of music, visited Thailand, including a stop at Pibulsongkram, where Bradley was recognized with an honorary doctorate.

He received his doctorate from the crown prince of Thailand during the university's graduation ceremony. Pupatwibul said Friday that Bradley is one of only 69 people to ever receive an honorary degree from the school in its 85-year-history.

"I am very proud to be a recipient of an honorary degree from Pibulsongkram Rajabhat University," the ISU president said. "This is a reflection of the strong connection that has been developed between our universities over the years."He wasn't the only ISU faculty member honored during the visit. Kilp received an honorary doctorate from Rajabhat Maha Sarakham for the work that he has done in cultivating partnerships between ISU and universities in Thailand.

His work in the southeastern Asian country included time during his 2007 sabbatical in the country, where he observed and taught. "I was very surprised to be recognized with this award," Kilp said.

While collaborations are ongoing, faculty and staff of the universities are still trying to find different ways to collaborate. Part of the Pibulsongkram delegation's visit Friday included a tour of the Cunningham Memorial Library to see if any aspects of the ISU library can help Pibulsongkram's facility, which is currently being renovated, Mathew said.

Indiana State's partnerships with Thai universities will continue this summer, as a group of students and professors will visit Thailand for an international conference. Some students also are planning to travel to several universities to teach English.

"More members of the ISU community are getting engaged in these partnerships," Mathew said, "We are very excited about that."

Photo: (ISU/Rachel Keyes)Sawarng Pupatwibul, president of Pibulsongkram Rajabhat University, and Daniel J. Bradley, president of Indiana State University, shake hands after Bradley awarded Pupatwibul with the President's Medal.

Photo: (ISU/Rachel Keyes)Members of the delegation from Pibulsongkram Rajabhat University talk with faculty members from Indiana State University during lunch on Friday.

Photo: (ISU/Rachel Keyes)Sawarng Pupatwibul, president of Pibulsongkram Rajabhat University (right), gives Daniel J. Bradley, president of Indiana State University, a framed photograph of Bradley receiving an honorary doctorate from Pibulsongkram during the university's graduation ceremony last month. Pupatwibul was part of a delegation from Pibulsongkram that visited ISU on Friday to discuss current and potential collaborative projects.

Writer and Media Contact: Austin Arceo, assistant director of media relations, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or