Hoosiers in Thailand: Indiana University and International Development

Art Exhibit Brochure
Program from a 1960 art exhibit at the Indiana University Art Museum entitled “The Arts of Thailand.”

When you think about a university situated in a small city in south-central Indiana, chances are, Thailand is the furthest thing from your mind. In actuality, Indiana University has close connections with Thailand dating all the way back to 1948 when President Herman B Wells met with Thai representative H E Mom Luang Pin Malakul, the Permanent Under Secretary for Education, in Bloomington to discuss education and development in Thailand. This involvement continued in 1955 when IU assisted with the development of Thammasat University in Bangkok, and continued with the establishment of the National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) in Bangkok in 1966, the latter of which was administered by IU through MUCIA.

The Midwest Universities Consortium for International Activities, also known as MUCIA, was composed of representatives from several large Midwestern research institutions, including Indiana University, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin, and Michigan State University. Indiana University provided two representatives, usually faculty members or administrators, and the IU president always served as Vice Chairman of the organization’s Council of Institutional Members. This consortium worked together to supply grants that would allow its member universities to build or assist in the leadership of academic institutions in developing countries with the goal of encouraging economic development and education abroad. Most of the MUCIA sponsored programs promoted the fields of education, government, business, economics, and public administration.

Pointers on Thai Manners and Customs
Page of a report from 1956 offering instruction and advice for interacting with Thai people.

These programs benefited the MUCIA member institutions by giving faculty and graduate students the opportunity to teach and conduct research abroad, thus strengthening their own academic programs. In fact, before becoming President of Indiana University, John Ryan traveled to Thailand as a Visiting Research Associate in 1956, co-authoring the monograph Administration of the Bangkok Municipality based on his research there. In addition to this item, the MUCIA records also include research and publications by scholars from Indiana University about Thai culture, including local government, institution building, agriculture, and family life.

Indiana University was a member of MUCIA from 1964 until the mid-1990s. As part of this consortium, IU’s most significant contribution was its involvement with the formation of NIDA. Funded by a grant from the Ford Foundation, NIDA was officially established on April 1, 1966 and included Schools of Public Administration, Business Administration, Development Economics, and Applied Statistics, all designed for graduate-level instruction. Although IU’s formal participation with NIDA ended in 1977 with the conclusion of the Ford grant, the university’s influence in Thailand continues to this day. Currently, NIDA has over 8,000 students, many of whom go on to become politicians, high-ranking government officials, and university educators in Thailand. In May 2012, Indiana University President Michael McRobbie took a trip to Thailand to meet with educational leaders, many of whom are NIDA graduates, to discuss the future of international education. While there, he also bestowed the Thomas Hart Benton Medallion to current NIDA President Dr. Sombat Thamrongthanyawong, further strengthening IU’s connection with Thailand.

NIDA campus in 1966
The National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) campus at its opening in Bangkok, Thailand in 1966.

The MUCIA records, which include resources about IU’s involvement with the consortium from 1952-1981 and documents about Indiana University in Thailand from 1952-1975, are now available from the IU Archives. For more information about Indiana University’s historic involvement with Thailand or other educational institutions abroad, contact a university archivist.

A Photographic Journey through Indonesia

Students from the National Institute of Administration in Djakarta, Indonesia surrounding a flip chart listing goals for improving public administration practices.
Students from the National Institute of Administration in Djakarta, Indonesia surrounding a flip chart listing goals for improving public administration practices.

Ever heard the expression “A picture is worth a thousand words”? This was the idea behind a report about the progress of the Indiana University sponsored project to develop the National Institute of Administration (NIA) in Djakarta, Indonesia. The USAID funded project took place from 1959 to 1963 and focused on creating a training and research center in business and public administration in Indonesia. It was designed to train and educate citizens to become civil servants and administrators, to promote and provide research in the field of public administration, and to work to improve the effectiveness of government and public service throughout Indonesia. Indiana University assisted by providing consultants who helped to develop curricula and teaching methods, advise in campus administration organization, and purchase equipment, library materials, and research supplies for the new institute.

Students with a flip chart they created about the social security system in Indonesia.
Students with a flip chart they created about the social security system in Indonesia.

Frequent progress reports were a requirement for these types of international programs, and they typically consisted of a formulaic outline of necessary information including people involved in the project, goals, and accomplishments, and were often completed somewhat perfunctorily by team members. For the Indonesia project, however, one consultant submitted a different kind of report to the University. John R. Campbell worked for the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in Boston and often acted as a private consultant in areas of public administration. Because of this experience, along with a previous job as a consultant to the Brazilian government to assist with their social security program, he was hired by Indiana University in 1960 for a three-month consultant position in Indonesia. His main task was to assess the management and training practices of the Indonesian government and provide feedback about how the NIA could improve these programs.

Students taking a break in the cafeteria at the National Institute of Administration.
Students taking a break in the cafeteria.
A new dormitory under construction.
A new dormitory under construction.

After Lynton K. Caldwell, the IU Campus Coordinator for the project, found out about Campbell’s experience as an amateur photographer, he suggested that Campbell take photographs illustrating the progress, work, and activities of the Institute as part of his assignment. Upon completion of his job in Indonesia, Campbell was required to submit a report of his observations and suggestions. Campbell chose to combine his photographs with his written report to create a visual representation of the status of public administration alongside images of Indonesian students and rural life.

A view of Indonesia. The caption on the back of the photo indicates that the sign reads "Do not throw away trash particularly bamboo meat sticks."
A view of Indonesia. The caption on the back of the photo indicates that the sign on the tree reads “Do not throw away trash particularly bamboo meat sticks.”

Campbell’s report contains a written statement about his experiences abroad as well as photographs of students with illustrated flip charts outlining the issues and goals for public administration in Indonesia. It also contains photographs of students, the IU project team, and USAID officers. Perhaps of more interest to those unfamiliar with public administration are images of the Indonesian countryside and rural life, including some scenic views, townspeople working, and transportation. According to Campbell, the 33 photographs are meant “to depict in graphic form what lays behind, what exists and what lies ahead” for public administration and government in Indonesia. Today, these photographs offer a rare and interesting view of Indonesia’s education, culture, and people in 1960 that is unique to this collection.

Indonesian farmer in a rice paddy.
Indonesian farmer in a rice paddy.

In addition to Campbell’s report, this collection also contains 15 photographs taken by American project team members and placed in a scrapbook about Indonesia from the late1950s and early 1960s. Some of these photos can be viewed online through the Archives Photograph Collection. To learn more about Indiana University’s involvement in Indonesia, check out the finding aid for the recently processed Indonesia Public Administration Program records or contact the IU Archives!

Pakistan Gets Wired: The Development of a Computing Center at the University of Islamabad

During my processing of four collections about Indiana University’s involvement in higher education programs in Pakistan in the 1960s, I’d gotten used to seeing the same kinds of files – budgets, correspondence, personnel, reports, computers. Wait…computers? Really? In Pakistan in the 1960s? They couldn’t mean real computers, could they? They must be using it as a term for a fancy calculator. Sure enough, they really were talking about computers, not calculators. I always pictured computers in the 1960s and 1970s as being room-sized behemoths too costly for anyone other than NASA and eccentric millionaires. As it turns out, computers weren’t quite so elusive at that time.

It all began in 1968 when Lynne L. Merritt, Vice President and Dean of Research and Advanced Studies, and Joseph R. Hartley, Associate Dean of the Faculties, conducted a survey to determine the government and university needs for computers in Islamabad. Indiana University had already been present in Islamabad for two years assisting with a program to establish a postgraduate institution for the sciences. A computing center, and by necessity a complementary computer science program, seemed like a natural extension for an academic establishment focused on the sciences.

Panoramic image of the University of Islamabad campus from a 1967 booklet about the university.
Panoramic image of the University of Islamabad campus from a 1967 booklet about the university.

Preliminary reports from 1967 and 1968 found that the addition of computers in the area would be beneficial not only for the university, but for the surrounding government and research institutions as well. The computing center would create post-graduate level training in computer science for the nation, enhance research at the nearby Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTEC), create a means for storing and retrieving government data, such as census data, tax records, and economic data, and assist with routine administrative support services for the national government, including payrolls, inventory records, and bookkeeping functions. The University of Islamabad was chosen as the location for the computing center because the computers could be used for both computing and instruction at that location, with remote computers at other locations added later. Banks, airlines, and laboratories in the area were already using IBM computers, so recommendations were made for the purchase of the same brand.

The Indiana University Team decided that a staff of 12 would be necessary to run the computing center. This included one keypunch operator, two machine operators, two systems analysts, two systems programmers, four application programmers, and a director who would be selected from the University of Islamabad faculty. Dr. Stanley Hagstrom, Associate Professor of Chemistry at Indiana University, was selected to serve as a computer consultant to assist in training and installing the computing center. Additional training in scientific and business management data processing would be necessary, much of which would be obtained abroad.

Image of the University of Islamabad Institute of Mathematics
An image of the University of Islamabad Institute of Mathematics, which later housed the computing center.

The next big problem was figuring out how the computing center would be funded. Reports estimated the cost of the computer plus required equipment, a printer, a generator, and shipping at $448,383.  A request for funding was made to the United Nations Special Fund in 1968, but they were unable to provide assistance. A letter from 1970 states that the Ford Foundation donated $250,000 towards the cost, but there is not documentation in this collection to confirm where the rest of the money came from.

During the summer of 1970, an IBM 360 Model 30E was purchased for the University of Islamabad. This computer was not at all what we commonly think of when we think about computers today. Rather than a lab full of individual computers, their computing center consisted of one large mainframe computer half the size of a small room. It was designed primarily for computing structured arithmetic computations, sometimes requiring days to complete, and for storing and retrieving data.

The entire system consisted of a motor generator measuring 4×8 feet, a switchboard measuring 4×7 feet, and batteries stored in a separate ventilated room measuring 2×16 feet each. The square inch area of the Islamabad computer, including two batteries, is about the size of 712 MacBook Pros laid side by side in a rectangle on the floor. This IBM model had 32 kilobytes of memory and a maximum storage capacity of 64 kilobytes. Most new desktops today come with a minimum of 2 gigabytes of memory and 500 gigabytes of storage. That is over 2 billion times more memory and a gazillion times more storage space than I know how to calculate compared to the Islamabad model. Now I’m not really a math person, but I can tell you that’s a lot.

IBM System 360 Model 30
An IBM 360 Model 30 computer from the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. This is the same make and model computer purchased for the University of Islamabad in 1970. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia via the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

The computer center was situated inside the mathematics building with an area of 5,000 square feet allocated for the center itself. Delivery problems and postponements occurred because the construction of the new center was behind schedule. The latest available document in the collection, dated September 1970, states that delivery of the computer equipment was postponed until June 1971. Since there is no correspondence or information beyond 1970, it is uncertain exactly when the computers arrived and what effect they had on the university and surrounding areas.

The University of Islamabad project is one of four programs Indiana University administered in Pakistan around this time period, but it is the only one that included the purchase of computer equipment. If you’re interested in learning more about Indiana University’s historical involvement with Pakistan, contact the IU Archives!

Indiana University Travels to South America

Statistics about education in Latin America, circa early 1960s.
Statistics about education in Latin America, circa early 1960s.

Embezzlement, politically charged elections, customs delays, and inflation—no, I’m not talking about a network TV drama. These are all things encountered throughout the course of Indiana University’s international development programs in South America. Two such projects were The Modernization of the University of San Marcos (USM) project in Lima, Peru, which focused on restructuring the business and operating procedures of the USM and the Mechanical and Electronic Engineering Education program at the Universidad del Trabajo (UTU) in Montevideo, Uruguay, which assisted in the development of the university’s industrial education programs, mainly in the automotive shop, foundry, and applied plastics departments. While both programs were administered from 1964-1966, they each had very different experiences in working with the people and culture of South America.

One of my favorite things about working with international collections is finding documents discussing cultural observations and offering tips for interacting with people from other countries. Since these were based on (sometimes biased) American customs from the 1960s, they often reveal interesting cultural observations about Americans at this time as well. A 1964 untitled report by an unknown author describes the overall attitude towards America in Peru and offers interesting advice for better understanding the atmosphere of the USM. It states, “It is reported that most of the deans of the various faculties and the professors at the University of San Marcos are quietly pro-American. It is alright to be pro-American in Latin America, but you must not be too loud about it. Political candidates never take a pro-American stand openly. The students at the University are for the most part friendly toward Americans, but there are some who are very cold toward Americans.” The report also explains that Peruvians pride themselves on having less racial prejudice in their country than Americans, but openly admit to being more discriminatory on the grounds of social class.

Working in an environment with people used to different customs, beliefs, and traditions can create a set of challenges unique from those faced when working within the same country. In Peru, for example, representatives from Indiana University were faced with cultural differences that resulted in disagreements over program goals, especially regarding the restructuring of administrative offices. Many of the program’s goals involved modernizing office procedures, but this sometimes interfered with university traditions. A memo dated August 2, 1965 from Robert E. Burton to Joseph A. Franklin, then Vice President and Treasurer of Indiana University, suggests changing USM’s operating procedures by “eliminating some of the copying minutes by hand—although even this must be considered in relation to tradition and might be a cause for concern in the particular climate that exists prior to election of the Rector next spring.” IU representatives realized the need for balance between assisting the USM while still respecting their traditions. Burton notes, “We can’t solve all the political and economic problems, but our recommendations must be developed for Lima, Peru, and not Bloomington.”

Dinner in Peru 1963-64
Faculty and administrators from universities in Peru and Indiana University at a dinner party in Lima, dated January 21, 1964.

It is possible that some of these problems, along with the political climate surrounding the election of a new rector for the USM, prevented the IU team from accomplishing all of their goals. A letter dated August 3, 1972 from J.A. Franklin to Robert Drysdale, a Program Assistant with the Ford Foundation in Lima, describes some of these problems. He writes, “Members of the staff who visited San Marcos reported unwillingness of certain subordinates there to cooperate, and this resulted in foot-dragging at the very least as well as actual, outspoken opposition to modernization attempts. Some of the opposition was without question due to fear of any change and especially to change which might reduce the number of staff or require them to work more effectively.” After the Indiana University representatives left Peru, it was discovered that one of the administrators from the University of San Marcos had been embezzling funds from his university, explaining his resistance to change operating procedures, further complicating an already challenging process.

Drawing from 1964 Bulletin
Drawing of part of the University of San Marcos campus in Peru from 1964.

In comparison, the program in Uruguay met with little, if any, resistance from faculty and administrators. While there were fewer personal and social conflicts, this program faced obstacles caused by miscommunications and bureaucratic procedures. At its onset, the starting date for the project was postponed 3 months because of delays in receiving host country and federal security clearances for the project leaders from Indiana University. Most problems were the result of delays in securing customs releases for shipments of equipment from the United States to Uruguay. It sometimes took more than 3 months for the equipment to be released, causing schedules to go awry. Additional complications occurred when metal-working lathes ordered in the United States arrived with standard measurement units, despite the specification that they be designed for the metric system, causing unexpected setbacks.

New equipment being unloaded at the Universidad del Trabajo in Montevideo, Uruguay, circa 1965.

 

Another student, Donato Macellero, using some equipment in the Pilot Center. This area was remodeled and given supplies as part of the project sponsored by Indiana University and USAID.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other issues were created by the economy in Uruguay and were completely out of the hands of the IU team. During the course of this project, Uruguay experienced drastic inflation rates, causing project costs to suddenly be several thousand dollars over budget, leading to delays in repairs and renovations. Despite these setbacks, the program in Uruguay managed to accomplish all of its goals within its intended time frame, with glowing reviews about the cooperation of the people from the UTU.

These programs represent only a fraction of Indiana University’s involvement in assisting institutions abroad. More information about these and other IU sponsored international projects can be found at the IU Archives. Stay tuned for future posts about IU’s involvement in Indonesia and the Middle East!