May 22 – SAINT GABRIEL UNIVERSITY
SAINT GABRIEL UNIVERSITY
Without denying their original mission, the Brothers teaching in “charitable schools” have become university professors in France, Canada, Congo-Brazzaville, Poland… Better still: they have their own university in Bangkok. It came into existence almost by chance. In 1969 an Indian Brother, Br. Bernard Mary, who was working at Assumption Commercial College, started a business school which was officially recognised three years later by the Ministry of Education as Assumption Business Administration College, shortened to ABAC.
In 1973 ABAC moved to the then deserted area ofHua Mark. Br. Prathip Martin Komolmas, coming as head after four religious and lay people who stayed in office for various lengths of time, kept enlarging and embellishing the establishment. The latest construction, Coronation Hall dates from 1990, the year when ABAC was awarded university status; it is fifteen-storey high and commands a view of a wonderfully arranged campus in which stone blends with the surroundings. The tall buildings house lecture halls and conference rooms containing deep armchairs, five libraries with 100.000 books and 650 magazine titles, a bookshop, a gymnasium, an interdenominational religious centre and a Catholic chapel. The greater number of students come from Thailand and the rest from about 40 countries. The courses are based on the American model with a credit system. The range of subjects taught in a dozen Institutes and half a dozen other departments is very wide, covering such areas as business languages and medicine for student nurses. However, the special feature of ABAC is that it remains what it was at first and concentrates on business and Administration, as its name indicates.
In 1996 Assumption College numbered 172 teachers; 45% of them were Thais and the rest came from Burma (108), India (48), the United States (46), etc. The number of students was 17,773. It was a large number for a somewhat cramped congested campus. A second one was built 40 km to the east of the first. Covering an area of 48 hectares, it included a 38-storey central tower- the “cathedral of learning”- 120 lecture halls arranged in the shape of aU, a hall of residence with accommodation for 2,500, a primary school, a secondary school, a chapel, a stadium, an olympic swimming pool, a sports hall… The two campuses are planned for 30,000 students.