Ajarn Chariya’s Memoir and the Making of MUIC

Just as Mahidol University International College (MUIC) celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, one of its pioneering leaders has recently published her memoir detailing her years of service in the College.

CBProf. Chariya Brockelman, who served as MUIC Director from 1997 to 2009, said her book Gwa Ja Pen Mahidol University International College (The Making of Mahidol University International College) serves not only as a personal memoir and MUIC institutional history but also as a guide on how to administer an international college.

The 500-page volume, written in the Thai language, is published by the Post Publishing Public Co. Ltd. It starts with a brief history of MUIC, then discusses the value of human resources, a chapter on leading an organization and promoting happiness among its employees, then proceeds to talk about globalization and the importance of establishing and maintaining international partners, and lastly, the importance of having a vision and using it on the College’s drive to success.

Prof. Pornchai Matangkasombut, President of Mahidol University from 1999 to 2007, wrote, “This book will make an insightful understanding of MUIC’s history. It’s interesting to monitor how the graduates of MUIC influence our society creatively. MUIC is the leader among its partner universities in the region. This book is best for anyone who would like to understand deeply how to establish and administer an international education.”

In his introduction to the book, Assoc. Prof. Phitaya Charupoonphol, MUIC Dean, remarked, “The story, based on her direct experience as a distinguished and versatile administrator, will serve as a model for the College.”

A faculty member of the Tourism and Hospitality Management Division for many years, Dr. Walanchalee Wattanacharoensil describes the memoir thus: “A must-pick for those who want to understand the beauty and the importance of liberal arts education. Prof. Brockelman shares the valuable behind-the-scenes story of a well-established MUIC in a fun and unputdownable way. The book makes me feel even more proud to be part of this institution.”

Under Prof. Brockelman’s leadership, MUIC enjoyed an accelerated growth. After hurdling the challenges of a fledgling international college, MUIC underwent significant changes not only physically but also institutionally as soon as Prof. Brockelman assumed office. Among her numerous accomplishments were the establishment of the Pre-College Program (now the Preparatory Center for English and Mathematics) which prepares high school seniors to qualify for the admission standards of the College, and the Salaya Pavilion Hotel and Training Center which now serves as MUIC’s on-campus internship center. New majors were also offered during her term—Social Science, Finance, Information Systems, International Business, Management, Marketing, Environment and Nursing. Under her watch, MUIC also started to offer graduate programs through the Graduate Center (since renamed International Graduate): MBA Business Modelling and Development and MM International Hospitality Management. A new academic division was also established, the Fine and Applied Arts Division.

Her vision was to create a truly international college that would give its Thai students a well-rounded education. This means a strong emphasis in liberal arts. For her, MUIC alumni must be imbued with honesty, integrity, and diligence.

For Prof. Brockelman, an international college should live up to its name, not only by having its students acquire a high level of English skills, mentored by both Western and Asian faculty members, and by having a strong network of university partners abroad, but also to have the College’s management and procedures to follow international standards.

Aside from her foresight, strong will and desire for MUIC to reach international standards, Prof. Brockelman also has among her priorities the development of the College’s human resources, according to a former PC Director, Ajarn Sanhapong Khovong. “Since ‘peopleware’ is more important than software and hardware, [Prof. Brockelman] invested abundantly in developing MUIC personnel (students, lecturers and staff),” he said.

The faculty and staff were given the opportunity to widen their horizon through the College’s strong support for their further education and international exposure via visits to partner universities abroad and attendance in international conferences and exhibitions. “I wanted faculty and staff to have a more multicultural exposure,” Prof. Brockelman said.

Prof. Brockelman remains modest with regards to her accomplishments. Whatever success MUIC has accomplished under her term, she prefers to give credit to the collective effort of the members of the MUIC community. “I set a good system, I hired good people. I gave them the tools and the knowledge.”

And during those busy years, Prof. Brockelman jotted down notes on a journal that she had kept, writing down for posterity every lesson she has learned on how to effectively manage an international college.

“If you want to have an international program, there is a way to do it,” she said.

And she has written all these down on her memoir.