Maha Chakri Sirindhorn


Honorary Degree (2010)
Doctor of Humane Letters
Location: Bloomington
Presenter: Michael McRobbie


For decades, IU has had a close relationship with Thailand. IU faculty members and experts have helped to develop modern Thailand by working to establish leading universities, contributing to the development of the K-12 educational system, supporting the growth of its modern health and dental care, and offering guidance as it developed governmental policies.

Many of these advances would not have been possible without the cooperation of the Thai royal family, particularly Princess Sirindhorn, said Charles R. Bantz, chancellor of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

"As the member of the Royal Family most prominent for promoting education in her country, she has used her position to focus efforts on a commitment that will better the lives of the Thai people for generations to come," Bantz said.

Her efforts have focused on children, education, disaster relief and preservation of Thai culture. For example, she played a direct role in establishing libraries, schools and basic education programs in rural areas and Thai border regions. She personally worked with local officials, used her position to call attention to children's needs, mobilized public support, made investments through her own foundation and inspired others to give.

As a scholar, she has worked in historic preservation, development of traditional Thai music, and creation of an electronic corpus of the modern Thai language. She is so revered as a champion of scientific inquiry that Thai scientists have named 15 plant and animal species in her honor.

Her work has garnered many honors through the years, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Public Service in 1991 (whose past winners have included the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa), and the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development in 2004 (whose past winners include Mikhail Gorbachev, Kofi Annan and Jimmy Carter).

In 2005, she was named a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Goodwill Ambassador.

"For a generation of students from Thailand and the surrounding countries, Princess Sirindhorn has been a model of effective public service," said Patrick O'Meara, IU vice president for international affairs. "Her efforts and successes with seemingly intractable problems deserve wider recognition and should stand as a model for students and educators all over the world."