CONTACT: MARY GERAGHTY
100 Old Public Library
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0011; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: March 2, 2000
Skorton to participate in higher education reform in Thailand
IOWA CITY, Iowa The government of Thailand has asked for the assistance
of a University of Iowa administrator in reforming the country's university
system. Dr. David Skorton, UI vice-president for research and professor of
medicine, electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering,
has been invited to Thailand March 14-23 to meet with university and government
officials and discuss ways to strengthen the Thai higher education system.
Along with members of the Association of Thai Professionals in America and
Canada (ATPAC), Skorton will visit Prince of Songkla University and Kasetsart
University in Thailand to discuss an ATPAC plan to strengthen graduate and
research programs. Members of ATPAC are primarily Thai academics who work
at U.S. or Canadian universities. Also joining the group will be Malden Charles
Nesheim, emeritus provost at Cornell University.
Skorton believes he was asked to participate because he has collaborated
with colleagues at Asian universities in the past and because his administrative
experience includes both medical and research administration. He also serves
as co-chair of the Iowa chapter of the Korea-America Friendship Society.
"I'm honored to be asked to participate and delighted to do it,"
Skorton said. "I'm humbled by the task though, because it's not clear
that the American higher education model will be transportable to Thailand."
As part of the recovery from the financial crisis in Thailand and as part
of other ongoing reform processes, the Ministry of University Affairs has
decided to restructure the university system so the universities are more
autonomous from the state. Under the new model, Thai universities would operate
more like U.S. institutions with internal governance by faculty and administrators
and greater emphasis on research and graduate education.
Skorton said he and the other visiting academics will spend time at the
two universities, meet with university and government officials, and participate
in workshops and discussions about planning for the future for higher education
"It's a daunting task to make suggestions in a brief visit about a
national university structure," he said. "But I'm happy to do what
little I can do to help."
Skorton said he also will take the opportunity to lay the groundwork for
further linkages between the Thai universities and the UI. He said he hopes
his visit will open doors for UI faculty and staff members to collaborate
with Thai colleagues.