Princess receives degree

Rachel Scaman

NIU presented Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, the Princess of Thailand, with an honorary degree of doctor and Humane Letters on Tuesday.

A ceremony was held in the Altgeld Hall Auditorium where Her Royal Highness addressed about 300 people after she was presented with her award.

“She was chosen because she is famous within the kingdom of Thailand as a true scholar,” said Clark Neher, a professor emeritus of political science who also spoke during the event.

Neher said Sirindhorn is a professor with advanced degrees and she has used her scholarship to improve the lives of the people of Thailand.

Associate Provost Deborah Pierce said Sirindhorn is well loved by people from all walks of life.

“She is well known in Thailand as a humanitarian and educator of the first rank and she holds an earned doctorate in educational development,” Pierce said.

Pierce said NIU has more than 50 years of academic collaboration with Thailand and its people and the university’s scholars know of the princess.

“It’s wonderful,” Pierce said. “We are just so honored and touched that she would accept our honorary degree.”

Neher said having the princess at NIU is a “marvelous feather in the university’s cap.”

“She is so beloved and so highly respected that it can’t help reflect on NIU,” Neher said.

“She doesn’t just talk about it. She acts on her beliefs and does all she can to improve every aspect of life for the people.”

The Center for Southeast Asian Studies has courses, faculty and students who are involved in the study of Thailand and Southeast Asia. Students also have opportunities to study abroad in Thailand.

“Language and culture are inextricably intertwined, so if you study Thai language here you will also learn about Thai culture,” Pierce said.

Speakers at the event included President Doug Baker; Raymond Alden, executive vice president and provost; and Lisa Freeman, vice president for research and graduate studies.