Matching Potential Partners in the United States with Siam University Academic Staff through the Discipline Based Professional Development Fellowship Program with Prof. Rajgopal Sashti
In an initiative to create a more internationalized future for Siam University, administrators attended a meeting with guest Prof. Rajgopal Sashti (RA) of Georgia Institute of Technology to discuss methods and tactics to collaboration. Prof. Rajgopal, a Fulbright Specialist, has recently been awarded a Fulbright Specialist Grant from the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarships Board and the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and tasked with visiting Thailand to educate University administration and faculty members on how to start and finance program partnerships. The importance for collaboration has never been higher, and innovation and creativity play a strong role in accomplishing these goals. Aspects of this needs plenty of resources and long-term commitments of each institution with talented and accomplished faculty members to serve as catalysts in transference of knowledge.
Through various methods of financing from business, corporations, sponsorship, and the Fulbright Program scholarships/fellowships, it has never been a better time to begin this collaboration. Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) is a highly regarded Higher Educational Institution in the United States, and Prof. Rajgopal is the direct contact between Siam University and the faculties of Georgia Tech and other institutions in Georgia.
To offer a little background on the Fulbright Program: This program began in the United States in 1945 by Senator J. Willian Fulbright, and was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. This was the beginning of a program using educational exchange to develop diplomacy with other countries. In 1950, the Fulbright Program in Thailand began through bilateral agreement between the governments of Thailand and The United States. In 1963, the program was renamed to the Thailand-U.S. Educational Foundation to reflect the nature of this bi-national endeavor and mutual interest in the activities.
Prof. Rajgopal made a few suggestions on how to execute a strategy that will benefit both Siam University, Georgia Tech, and other universities in Georgia. Mostly they entailed to mainly work directly with individual departments rather than the institution as a whole. This would allow more resource creativity and stronger bonds within faculties from both institutions. It is set into motion to begin with short-term exchanges for the duration of 2 to 4 weeks, which is a model based on the Fulbright Program, but funded with institutional resources. The faculty scholarships are normally given for a longer duration as a lump sum total, but to attain the maximum value, the money can be split into these 4 week exchanges to bring more faculty members to share much more knowledge. The exchanged faculty members would ‘shadow’ professors and learn a variety of methods in education, interactions, and operations as well as become a resource themselves for new information. Siam University has agreed to begin a long term commitment, and begin to send members to Georgia beginning in the new year. Over the course of the next 5 years, it will be possible to exchange 20 faculty members with the aim for them to become more internationalized, and transfer this experience down to our students. With Siam University’s goal to expand the international programs into science and technology over the next few years, this initiative has come at the perfect time.
The most interesting aspect of this exchange program, expressed by Prof. Rajgopal, was that this was not only to exchange methods of Higher Education, but in life itself. The importance of sharing life’s experiences, choices, work, and background plays an integral role to accomplishing a well rounded internationalized experience.
Siam University expresses its warmest gratitude to Prof. Rajgopal Sashti and Assistant President Dr. Maruj Limpawattana and President Dr. Pornchai Mongkhonvanit for bringing this opportunity to our university community.