July 2, 2020
OPEN LINE is a means of communication between Dr. Amnuay Tapingkae, Interim President of Payap University, and the Payap community of students, staff and friends of the university. It is a simulated interview between Dr. Amnuay and Dr. Ken Dobson, Adviser to the President.
A: Well, Ken, this will be our final session of OPEN LINE, I think. Yesterday I submitted my resignation as Interim President of Payap University to the chair of the Payap University Board of Trustees, and I handed copies to the executive officers of the Church of Christ in Thailand Foundation. My term will end on July 31.
K: This has been a tumultuous year trying to help the university regain its financial balance and then a second blow when the COVID-19 epidemic closed the campuses through the summer term and delayed the start of this new academic year.
A: The new year started officially yesterday, July 1. We have 583 students entering Thai programs, which is close to our goal of 600. International programs begin on August 17. It is disappointing that we will not be able to bring students from China until at least the second semester which will begin after Christmas.
K: In the previous sessions of OPEN LINE, which you initiated, you have tried to tell us what is really going on. Replies, both in writing and in person, have expressed appreciation and maybe surprise at this. Do you think this sort of transparency...
OPEN LINE is a medium of communication between Dr. Amnuay Tapingkae, Interim President of Payap Univesity, and everyone in the Payap community. Once a week he is interviewed by Dr. Kenneth Dobson, Adviser to the President, about how the university is responding to the urgent and emerging issues being brought to his attention.
K: Dr. Amnuay, what’s your top concern this week? What do you want us to know about how the university is responding to our financial and enrollment difficulties?
A: As we wait for another installment of financial help from the Foundation of the Church of Christ in Thailand (CCT), the foundation has requested a response from the Ministry of Higher Education about our restructuring and downsizing. This week I found out that a friend, Dr. Pornchai Mongkhonvanit, President of Siam University in Bangkok is on the governing commission of the Ministry. I have asked him to help us get the response the CCT needs, and he agreed to help. Dr. Pornchai has valuable contacts through the Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning and as a past president of the Association of University Presidents, both of which we have been members over the years.
K: Personal contacts can often clear the way when formal channels get bogged down.
A: I think it might be that way all over the world. As Payap was getting started it was Dr. Konrad Kingshill’s contacts in the USA that...
Session 4, June 18
OPEN LINE is formatted as a weekly conversation between Dr. Amnuay Tapingkae, Interim President of Payap University, and Dr. Kenneth Dobson, Adviser to the President. This is an “open line” between Dr. Amnuay and everyone in the Payap community.
K: Dr. Amnuay, we are all hearing that the “winds of change” are blowing. What news do you have for us this week?
A: You, Ken, as a former seminary teacher, will be interested in our biggest news of the week. A plan is being made to have the McGilvary College of Divinity (MCD) become a separate institution education under the Church of Christ in Thailand.
K: The seminary is Payap’s oldest component. It was established more than 130 years ago.
A: When I was invited to become the first president of Payap College, the Church of Christ in Thailand agreed to have the Thailand Theological Seminary become a faculty of the college. This was not easy because the Thai government was skeptical at that time about religious institutions becoming degree-granting colleges and universities. But it helped the seminary in two ways, by giving government accreditation to the bachelor’s courses which meant that graduates had full-fledged degrees rather than certificates on the same rank as barbers, automobile mechanics, and Thai boxing coaches. It also meant that the seminary’s operating expenses would...
Regarding: Measures for Protection and Prevention of Covid-19
In accordance with the guidance and regulations of the Thai Government, the Chiang Mai Provincial Governor, and the Ministry of Higher Education, Payap University has been temporarily closed. As the situation has moderated measures for phased reopening of educational institutions have been announced which must be strictly adhered to. Phase 4 of the reopening began on June 15, 2020. Academic year 2020 semester 1 starting from July 1, 2020 which affects schools and other educational institutions.
Payap University will be operating as follows:
1. Semester 1 courses for Thai departments will begin as of July 1, 2020 and international courses on 17 August 2020 with a combination of regular and on-line instruction, with reduced time, adjusted or alternating schedules, or cancellation of some courses, management of practicums (field practice) and off campus work as appropriate, or avoidance of activities that would be done in large groups.
2. Personnel shall return to work as usual on 22 June 2020 with measures taken to measure temperatures of persons coming and going from campuses. All persons, both insiders and outsiders, shall conform correctly while on campus. Units must register in accordance with epidemic preventative measures as well as applications the government mandates.
Session Three, June 11
OPEN LINE is a weekly posting of communications between Dr. Amnuay Tapingkae, Interim President of Payap University, and any members of the Payap community who wish to have direct access to him and clear answers in reply. The format is an dialogue between Dr. A and Dr. K (Kenneth Dobson, Adviser to the President) acting as interviewer.
K. Dr. Amnuay a couple of weeks ago you invited a group of us who are long-time personnel from the USA to form a Vision and Funding Task Group. They presented a report of suggestions to you.
A. Yes, Ken, I really appreciate their response after they had a Zoom meeting, which was a new experience for a few of them. This group has been steadfast and loyal to Payap University for decades. I understand the Zoom meeting was arranged by Dr. Tony Waters of our PhD in Peacebuilding program. I have just received word that his full professorship from California State, Chico has been accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education so he is now officially a full professor here in Thailand as well. This is an honor for us, and I want to congratulate Tony for fulfilling the Ministry’s requirements to make it happen.
K. What did the group suggest that caught your attention?
A. Their comments and suggestions got me inspired to draft a game-plan for the next phase of our interim. In order to respond to their suggestions I want to...
June 4, 2020
OPEN LINE is designed to provide direct access to and from Dr. Amnuay Tapingkae, Interim President of Payap University. There will be one session a week through this period at the beginning of the new academic year and the end of the first year of Dr. Amnuay’s two-year tenure. The format for OPEN LINE is to simulate an interview between Dr. Amnuay and Dr. Ken Dobson, Adviser to the Interim President. For this session, responses from various students will be mentioned with replies.
K. Dr. Amnuay, there have been a number of responses to the OPEN LINE interview last week.
A. I am very encouraged by how much attention is being paid to our situation and by how helpful people have been. It is so valuable to have multiple perspectives.
K. One set of responses came from students. Daniel Xiong suggested raising money from alumni and international churches in Chiang Mai to help pay June salaries.
A. I have read all of Daniel’s suggestions and I completely agree with his last line that, “this is not only a financial crisis it is a CHRIST crisis in Payap.” As for the immediate issue of June salaries, we need the Foundation of the Church of Christ in Thailand to provide operational funds for each of the next several months, as they have said they will do. We rely on our friends for specific projects. For example, a couple of years ago...
As the first year of the interim-presidency of Dr. Amnuay Tapingkae draws to a close on July 31 he has asked me (Dr. Kenneth Dobson, Adviser to the Interim President) to moderate an “Open Line” between him and all of us in the Payap community. His wish is to provide information directly to you and to answer your questions in a way that all of us can know what’s going on, because a lot is happening.
To get us started I will be posing some questions for Dr. Amnuay to respond to.
K: What has been your initial accomplishment since last August 1?
A: I have tried to cut the operational expenses of the university. Finances have been our presenting issue. Minimizing waste has been a focus. We have tried to reduce the cost of electricity and utilities. One way of doing that has been to recondition air conditioning equipment, for example, and renovation of classroom buildings. In addition, we have tackled labor costs by outsourcing some services and using technology and police protection rather than excessive personnel of our own for campus safety.
K: In terms of operational expenses, I understand you have investigated the costs of our departments. What did you find?
A: It came as a surprise that only 2 of our 12 faculties and colleges were profitable. Nursing and Pharmacy are the only ones that are not operating at a net loss. This has been going on for so long that the university...