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March 1, 2012 Volume 33, No. 22

Chancellor Deaton receives honorary doctorate from Thailand university


HONOR: Delegates from Khon Kaen University presented Chancellor Deaton with an honorary degree Feb. 23. Photo by Nicholas Benner


Deaton taught agriculture in Thailand in the early 1960s

Wearing a Thai gown trimmed with bright stripes, Chancellor Brady J. Deaton accepted an honorary degree from Khon Kaen University Feb. 23 during a ceremony in the Great Room of the Reynolds Alumni Center.

Deaton is the Thailand university’s first recipient of an honorary doctorate in public administration, majoring in public affairs management.

After thanking the five-person delegation in their native tongue, Deaton switched to English to explain his personal and professional connection to Thailand.

In 1962, Deaton was a young Peace Corps volunteer teaching at a vocational agricultural school in northern Thailand. During his two years in the country, he grew to respect the people, their culture and their emphasis on education.

On return visits to Thailand over the years, Deaton observed how the country’s growing economy raised the quality of life for its citizens. He said the country’s commitment to education helped spur economic growth.

“There was a vision in education,” he said, that helped give today’s 65 million Thais a better standard of living than they had in the 1960s.

Deaton contrasted the commitment to education in Thailand and America, where state higher-education budget cuts, including Missouri’s, have resulted in public colleges and universities pulling back on some education programs.

As Southeast Asia moves forward in education, Deaton said, America is going backward.

Some delegates from Khon Kaen also spoke at the ceremony.

Denpong Soodphakdee, vice president of academic and information technology affairs at Khon Kaen University, talked of Deaton’s administrative assistance in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries. Deaton offered expertise on the 1997 Asian economic crash and after the 2004 tsunami that struck Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand.

“You have devoted your life to public service as a volunteer, professor and administrator of educational and public institutions,” Soodphakdee said.

Mizzou alumnus Peerasit Kamnuansilpa, adviser to the dean for research and international affairs at the Thailand university, told Deaton that the honorary degree is only “a small reflection of your many contributions to Thailand.”

He finished by telling Deaton, “You are now a KKU alumnus.”