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 involve our entire administration and Payap community. These are areas we need everybody to think about. We need thinking in FOUR CATEGORIES.
The first category of questions we need to consider is about our purpose and objectives as a Christian institution of higher learning. What is our raison d’être? Why are we established in the first place? We need to examine this underlying philosophy honestly.
The second category is self-reflection. Where have we done well and where have we failed? What is our achievement? Have we achieved what we aimed to achieve? What are our missteps? We can’t go forward into a productive future without an accurate assessment of our past.
The third category is about the future. Where are we going? This is where we need suggestions to come in from everybody. The senior personnel presented a list of their own, and I think they have made some solid suggestions, but before publishing their thoughts I want to collect thoughts from others. I’d like to hear from our senior Thai personnel, some of whom have been here for decades as well. I want to hear from teachers and support staff. As we think about the future what are the landmines we need to watch out for? What terrain can we navigate? Here are 2 particular and immediate issues: (1) What are the programs we should revise in order to survive? (2) How do we cope with the financial crisis we are facing? This includes what is the most economical and productive utilization of our human resources, and how we sort out inefficiency, redundancy and un-productivity.
The fourth category grows out of the third. It is about leadership challenges. We must prepare leadership to cope with modern challenges. That is, servant leadership who can work with a team without dominating, who can draw out talent and who can entertain innovation. We need leaders who know the way, can teach the way, and who walk the way. I’m talking about morality and ethics here. We need instructors who are mentors. We urgently need a process to train our university teachers how to teach most effectively. If we were a kindergarten our teachers would come with a background in pedagogy, but we have to provide in-service inspiration and methodology for our teachers at the university level. The most important thing, however, is for our instructors to teach by the example of their own life.
K. Where do you plan to begin?
A. We need a think-tank we can rely on. This think-tank will have to appreciate the wisdom and experience of colleagues who have years of practice and who are used to treating challenges as not necessarily threatening. This think-tank will have the job of inspiring all of us to make Payap University more relevant NOW and into the future. The think-tank will involve energetic and enthusiastic participants wherever they find them, and will show how to carry on when my interim presidency is over.
K. So you are thinking beyond July 31 when your interim year is over? Don’t you have a second year?
A. The Board of Trustees has invited me to serve a second and final year, but this must be ratified by the Foundation of the Church of Christ in Thailand. Whenever my own interim presidency ends I hope my successor will have the psychological and moral support and the wisdom that comes from them to run this university to survive in the new world that is evolving faster than expected. The new president will find a “new normal” prevailing that is more cruel, more complicated, and even more surprising. Therefore, the new leadership team will have to be more equipped than leaders of today. They will have to be more resourceful, humble, sustainable and wiser.
As the moderator of this OPEN LINE I invite any student, teacher, support staff person, parent, or other concerned and interested friends to send questions to Dr. Amnuay at firstname.lastname@example.org and I pledge they will receive attention. Some may be answered privately, and others will be forwarded to appropriate staff for quick reply. Next week the line is open. Let us hear from you.