Distinguished Professor in Studies of Islam and the ASEAN Community
Dr Surin Pitsuwan received his primary and secondary education in his home province of Nakorn Sri Thammarat, Southern Thailand. Except for his first two years of study as an undergraduate at Thammasat University in Bangkok, one of Thailand’s best known universities, Dr Surin Pitsuwan spent his entire tertiary education in the United States. He earned his MA and PhD in political science from Harvard University. His entire Harvard career was supported by the Winston S. Churchill Association, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation Fellowships. He also spent a year and a half studying Arabic and conducting his research at the American University in Cairo, 1975-1977, while concurrently a fellow at the Higher Council for Islamic Research, Cairo, Egypt.
Dr Surin spent his post-doctoral academic career at the Faculty of Political Science, Thammasat University from 1978 to 1986 rising through the ranks to become a full Professor. Later he joined politics and rose to the position of Thailand’s Foreign Minister, the highest in his political career (1997 – 2001). Dr Surin became the 12th Secretary-General of ASEAN (2008 – 2012). He contributed so much to the development of ASEAN not only when he was its Secretary-General but also when he was the Foreign Minister of Thailand.
Two of his most recognized accomplishments in dealing with ASEAN affairs were  first, spearheading the Asian countries to help restore law and order in East Timor during the violent uprising in the aftermath of the Referendum in August 1999, and  second, leading the ASEAN Member States and the United Nations and other international institutions such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and various other International NGOs to enter Myanmar to rescue that country from the catastrophe of Cyclone Nargis in May 2008 and remained there until the mission was accomplished in December 2010.
In recognition of his many contributions to society, national and international, Dr Surin Pitsuwan has been conferred numerous awards, including a dozen or so honorary doctorate degrees from universities both in the East and in the West.