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Today, Srinakharinwirot University is a modern go-ahead university in the metropolitan heart of bustling Bangkok, but life, the city and the university were all very different when the University’s story began.
After the chaos of World War II, there was an urgent need to reorganize and reinvigorate the country. Not least, children needed education, they needed teachers to provide it, and in turn, somebody needed to train the teachers. Dr. Saroj Buasri was that somebody when he founded the Higher Teacher Training School at Prasarnmit, the first institution of its kind in the country, in 1949 under the auspices of His Majesty the King Arnanthamahidol.
As Dr. Saroj Buasri nourished his first educators, conditions were far from modern. Prasarnmit was surrounded by lucious swampy vegetation and wildlife. People lived along the khlongs (canals) and travelled by boat. Few had electricity and almost none had telephones.
However, as Bangkok developed through the 1950’s, so did the Higher Teacher Training School. The Demonstration Schools and Central Library were established, and the School itself became the College of Education, having authority to grant degrees in Education. In 1974, the College of Education became a comprehensive university by Royal Decree of His Majesty the King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who graciously named the new university Srinakharinwirot, which means ‘the glory of the city.’ Also, while the Faculty of Education remains at the historical heart of the University, seventeen more faculties, seven research institutes, nine centers and the Graduate School have been established over the years and offer a range of degree programs.
The area of Prasarnmit has also changed beyond recognition. People now live in high-rise apartments, travel by car, skytrain or subway, and almost all have mobile phones. The sleepy backwater has become a commercial and residential center. The overcrowding is such that the University has no room for further expansion on its original site. Consequently, most of the newer faculties have been relocated to a new campus in rural Ongkharak in Nakhon Nayok.
This new campus, about 70 kilometers north of Bangkok first admitted students in 1996. It is in some ways similar to the Prasarnmit campus of 1949 – a green and peaceful place surrounded by canals and rice fields. The Faculties of Engineering and various fields of medicine and technology located there are blessed with state-of-the-art teaching facilities. In particular, the Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Medical Center provides medical students with all modern means for research and training. It also provides medical care for students, staff and the general public. Panyananthaphikkhu Chonprathan Medical Center will soon be a second school teaching hospital in suburban Bangkok.
Today, Srinakharinwirot University is a modern institution producing graduates with a vast range of skills to meet the demands of the current age. The fine bronze statue of Mom Luang Pin Malakul at Prasarnmit looks down on a campus much changed from Mom Luang Pin’s teaching days. Yet throughout its history of rapid growth and technological development, the University has remained faithful to its founding principles. It maintains a strong reputation in the field of education and a commitment to academic excellence.