Connection made with Thai university

Adelle Whitefoot

Delegates from Bangkokthonburi University of Thailand visited Northern Michigan University on April 26 to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

An MOU is a document that describes an agreement between two or more parties. The MOU between Bangkokthonburi University (BTU) and NMU will allow the two schools to work together on research projects and for student and faculty exchanges.

“It opens up a world of possibilities for the entire campus community,” said Miriam Moeller, the international programs specialist at NMU. “Northern students can study abroad in Thailand and Thai students can explore NMU.”

Miriam Moeller and the International Programs Office helps carry out the conditions of the MOU by communicating with BTU and other universities in regards to student and faculty exchanges, research projects and other partnerships.

“The key person who helped establish our new partnership with Bangkokthonburi University was Bill Ball,” Moeller said. “He has been to Thailand before and has been helpful in connecting NMU to Thai institutions.”

William Ball, a political science and public administration professor at NMU, was able to make a connection with BTU through his connections with Rangson Prasertsri, the senior advisor to the Thai president. Prasertsri was the dean of public administration at another university in Thailand that Northern signed a MOU with two years ago, Ball said.

“As a result of that MOU (Prasertsri) and I wrote a paper together that he then presented in Brazil last August,” Ball said. “So as you can see, research (projects) do come out of these memorandums of understanding.”

The connection with BTU gives students and faculty someone to contact and talk to over in Thailand. Even though most faculty members know someone when they go abroad, some may not and this way they won’t be going over there blindly and alone, Ball said.

“If students should go there, they now have a university to contact and can use their resources there,” said Ball. “They have an English language section in their library for example that Americans who don’t speak Thai or read Thai can use.”

BTU is a private institution that was established about a decade ago. The university offers undergraduate programs and doctorate programs for the 20,000 plus students that are enrolled.

“Traveling to Thailand and just seeing the university and seeing how they interact, especially in a third world or developing country would be a great opportunity for Americans,” Ball said.

This Memorandum of Understanding with BTU is the most recent of many that NMU has with international universities. NMU also has agreements with universities in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Korea, Mexico, Peru, Spain, and Sweden.

“Building international relationships to enable our students to get out in the world and to bring the world to NMU is a key component of the university’s strategic plan; Roadmap to 2015,” said NMU President Les Wong. “Our students will get the very best possible experience by working with international universities with whom we have official relationships.”

One aspect of the Road Map is to create a campus that is interconnected with the world and to offer meaningful international experiences to student and faculty he said. MOU’s are different with each institution, Wong said. Some institutions can offer NMU Students considerable support where others cannot he said. It depends on what resources the institute has available to them. The purpose of an MOU is to set out very clear responsibilities of the relationship between NMU and the other institutions, Wong said.

“The Asian nations offer our students and faculty a unique world view, a country undergoing significant change and a country that values education,” said Wong.