Advisory Board deliberates on key issues and opportunities

Advisory Board deliberates on key issues and opportunities

AIT’s Institute-Level Advisory Board (ILAB) met on 7 July 2017 to reflect on the current state of the Institute, analyze the academic, financial and development resources of AIT, and deliberate on focus areas and new opportunities.

Prof. William C Webster (center) flanked by Prof. Tso-Chien Pan (left) and Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai (right).

Setting the tone for the meeting, the second such engagement following its constitution in May 2016, ILAB Chairman Prof. William C Webster remarked that the role of the body is advisory in nature and that they would present their views for consideration by the AIT administration on key focus areas. Also joining the deliberations was Dr. Subin Pinkayan, Chairman, AIT Board of Trustees.

Issues under consideration included both an analysis of the present as well as discussing possibilities that could help AIT in the future. Four issues under consideration included the desirability of the 5-year Unified Bachelor’s and Master’s Programs; progress on the transformation of AIT’s School of Management (SOM); partnering opportunities as well as the possibility of starting a short-term course on “Understanding Asia"; and an analysis of academic offerings at the School of Environment, Resources and Development (SERD).

Presenting the current academic, financial and development resources, AIT President Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai revealed that the number of faculty members, including full-time and seconded are at the highest level since 2010.He mentioned that though many faculty members had jumped the then "sinking ship" after the devastating flood of 2011 and the crisis thereafter, the number of faculty members as of date has recovered to be a shade higher than the pre-flood level.

While highlighting that both the annual surplus and general reserve had shown a steady increase since 2013, Prof. Worsak solicited suggestions on the optimum quantum of surplus that AIT should maintain to guard against a potential disaster like the 2011 flood. He mentioned that the private sector usually maintains a reserve of at least one year of operating expenses. The AIT President also presented the trends of major components of both the revenue and expenditure, the values of sponsored projects, and the academic outcome and impacts from 2010 to 2016.

Presenting the 5-Year Unified Bachelor’s and Master’s programs, Prof. Nitin Kumar Tripathi, Director, Special Degree Programs (SDP), stated that AIT has eight active partners including Chiang Mai University (Thailand); Petra Christian University (Indonesia); University of Toledo (USA); and Jawaharlal Nehru University, Kakinada, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, College of Agriculture Baramati, Don Bosco University, and KL University from India. Only talented students will be recruited by the partner universities based on agreed criteria with AIT, to study 3.5 years to complete bachelor's program from partner universities before advancing to AIT for 1.5 years Master's program. This Unified Program is designed for elite students who are expected to complete both degrees within 5 years.

SOM Dean Prof. Lawrence Abeln presented an update on the strategic transformation of the AIT School of Management. He mentioned that key goals of the plan include an increase in revenues, the launch of new programs, establishing a new premium location in Bangkok, aligning the pricing to market conditions, modifying the structure of the program, and an increase in the faculty capacity. He also presented the new MBA and DBA brochures and added that the new SOM website will be unveiled soon.

ILAB Member Prof. PJ Lavakare proffered the concept of a short-term course on “Understanding Asia,” targeted at international students. Presenting current trends of overseas students from Japan, UK, and the US, Prof. Lavakare shared a proposal drafted by Ms. Wendy Wuyts, a Master’s students in Industrial Ecology.

Prof. Rajendra Shrestha, Dean, School of Environment, Resources and Development (SERD), presented an overview of the programs offered by the School and sought the view of members on the academic offerings vis-à-vis their financial viability, scholarship opportunities, market trends, and faculty resources.

Attending the meeting were Prof. William C Webster, Chairman, ILAB; Prof. Tissa Illangasekare, Dr. P J Lavakare, Prof. Tso-Chien Pan, Dr. Suchita Punyaratabandhu, and Mr. Ragnar Soegaard (all ILAB members); Prof. Worsak Kanok-Nukulchai, Prof. Sivanappan Kumar, Prof. Kazuo Yamamoto, Prof. Rajendra P Shrestha, Prof. Lawrence Abeln, and Dr. Jonathan Shaw (as AIT members); Dr. Subin Pinkayan, Prof. Nitin K Tripathi, Mr. Shawn Kelly and Mr. Bajinder Pal Singh as invitees; and Mr. Karma Rana and Ms. Namita Sravat as the ILAB Secretariat officers. This was the second meeting of present ILAB, with the first being held on 21 October 2016.