Media Availability: The Thai and Washington State University partners in this project will be available for interviews and photographs on Monday, May 13, at 9:45 a.m. at Lighty Student Services Building, Room 405, on the Pullman campus, and during the campus tour to follow.

PULLMAN, Wash. — Thailand has decided to privatize the universities in its higher education system — and has turned to Washington State University to lead that effort.

From May 12-19, presidents of nine Thai universities will be at the Pullman campus for planning and brainstorming discussions with education faculty and university administrators, said WSU Professor Forrest Parkay, project director. A group of Thai university vice presidents will continue the leadership institute until May 31.

Thai higher education has functioned as a centralized bureaucratic system, with universities owned by the government, Parkay explained. However, the Thai government has decided to privatize the universities, with the goal of creating “autonomous” universities on the American model and reducing cronyism, mediocrity, and red tape.

Parkay explained that the Pullman institute would be an executive-level professional development experience for the Thai educators who will then be able to provide national leadership in the privatization effort for all 75 institutions of higher education in Thailand.

The WSU partnership project is funded by the U.S. Department of State.

Steve Lebens, program officer in the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at Washington, D.C., said the institute is an important project. “We want to help countries improve their higher education institutions, because better education leads to a better understanding of the world and of the United States. In Thailand, improving education is the purpose of this privatization program.”

More information is available at the program’s Web site: .