UCLA Receives Third Gift for Thai Studies from Royal Thai Government

Generous support will fund language teaching, student scholarships, and public programming on Thailand.

“This generous gift ensures that we can continue not only to offer Thai at the beginning level, for which there is great demand, but also at higher levels, where serious researchers can benefit.”

Photo: Dr. Barbara Gaerlan, Assistant Director of the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies, and Ms. Maura Resnick, Director of Development for the UCLA International Institute, accept a check to the UCLA Foundation from the Royal Thai Government designated to support Thai Studies at UCLA.  Presenting the check are Deputy Consul General Mungkorn Pratoomkaew and Consul Komkrich Chongbunwatana of the Consulate of Thailand, Los Angeles.  Photo credit: Kat Kamonkan

By Barbara Gaerlan

UCLA is the happy recipient of a generous gift of $50,000 in 2011-12 from the Royal Thai Government to support Thai Studies in the United States.  This is the largest such gift that UCLA has received for this project, and it comes after two years of previous funding from the Royal Thai Government, representing remarkable commitment.

Prof. Michael L. Ross, Director of the UCLA Center for Southeast Asian Studies, expressed his profound thanks to the three offices which were instrumental in making the gift possible: The Foreign Ministry of Thailand, the Embassy of Thailand to the United States, and the Consulate General of Thailand, Los Angeles.  He expressed particular thanks to the individuals involved:  Dr. Kantathi Suphamongkon, Senior Scholar at the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations and former University of California Regents Professor; Mr. Chirachai Punkrasin, Director-General of the Department of American & South Pacific Affairs at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs; His Excellency Kittiphong na Ranong, Ambassador of Thailand to the United States; and the Honorable Damrong Kraikruan, Consul General at the Consulate of Thailand, Los Angeles.

Ross explained: “This gift will be instrumental in ensuring that UCLA will continue to be able to offer three levels of Thai language teaching (elementary, intermediate, and advanced) in our Department of Asian Languages and Cultures for another year.  It will also enable us to provide scholarships for students to study in Thailand, and to do public programing related to Thailand and Thai Studies at UCLA.”

In the 2011-12 academic year, UCLA is the only university in California teaching Thai at all.  Ross said, “This generous gift ensures that we can continue not only to offer Thai at the beginning level, for which there is great demand, but also at higher levels, where serious researchers can benefit.”  In Fall 2011 there are 32 students studying Introductory Thai (a record number), 9 students in Intermediate, and 5 students in Advanced.  UCLA’s Thai language instructor is Dr. Supa Angkurawaranon, a skilled instructor from Chiang Mai, Thailand, who received her Ph.D. degree in the U.S. from Northern Illinois University.

Student scholarships will benefit UCLA students participating in the excellent study abroad opportunities offered at Thammasat University in Bangkok by the University of California Education Abroad Program (which is open to students from all 11 U.C. campuses).  These include Fall, Spring, Summer, and Full Academic Year programs. 

Five UCLA students participated in the Summer 2011 program and three are currently overseas for the Fall 2011 semester.  Of these, the Center was able to provide scholarships to three of the students with funding from the Royal Thai Government’s earlier gift.  It anticipates being able to provide even greater support in the coming year.  Announcements will be made on the Center’s website, with the application available by November, and a probable application deadline of February 2012 for funding from April 2012 through the 2012-13 academic year.

Published: Friday, September 30, 2011