Life's work challenging for Somvichian
November 22, 1996
Dr. Kamol Somvichian, professor of political science, has taught at
the University of La Verne since 1987. Dr. Somvichian earned his B.A. at
Chulalongkorn University, his M.A. at New York University and a Ph.D. at
the University of London. All three of his degrees were earned in political
science and government. During his American Government and Politics class,
he discusses the presidential election process in the United States.
Graduating from the University of London with a Ph.D in politics and economic
development, Dr. Kamol Somvichian has brought his resources to the University
of La Verne.
Dr. Somvichian has four jobs. He is a professor of political science at
the University, he also teaches an MBA course in managing skills on the
weekends for executives in Los Angeles. He writes a political/economic column
for the Siam Post in Thailand.
"It is a major paper read by millions of people. If I miss my deadline
they complain," he said of the newspaper.
His fourth job is run out of his home. "Mode Asia Associates"
is a consulting firm that gives knowledge about making investments in Asia.
Twelve years ago Dr. Somvichian began teaching part time at ULV, and in
1987 he began teaching full time. He specializes in the areas in which he
obtained his degrees, competitive government and politics and economic development.
Dr. Somvichian teaches World Civilization I and II, American Government
and Politics, Comparative Foreign Policy and International Law Organization
He is the Founder and Chair of a charitable foundation called "Foundation
For Making A Difference." The foundation was established nine years
ago by himself and four other colleagues.
"We collect money. We have plastic boxes in the Asian communities,
in restaurants and supermarkets for contribution. We use the money collected
to help build shelters for poor people in Mexico, feed poor people in Thailand,
and send clothing to the Philippines during earthquakes and volcano eruptions,"
said Dr. Somvichian.
He began teaching at Chulalongkorn University (named after a Thai king)
and was dragged into politics, forcing him to leave the university for political
In 1972, he was elected to draw up a new Constitution for Thailand. "I
was in what was called the National Legislative Assembly," he said.
He had to stay in Thailand to make sure that the Constitution worked for
Then he began his quest for politics. Dr. Somvichian became the secretary
general of the Democratic Party in Thailand. He said the party is something
like the one in the United States and is the oldest party in Thailand.
"I was the Senator. I was also the adviser to the prime minister. He
is sort of like the president here," said Dr. Somvichian.
La Verne is not the first school where Dr. Somvichian has taught. Before
coming to La Verne, he taught at the United States
International University in San Diego. He was also a Fulbright Professor
at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Dr Somvichian said, "Swarthmore
is the number one college in the United States."
Dr. Somvichian will be on Sabbatical next semester, but he is not planning
on being gone for long.
"I plan to publish my articles. I have had my articles published every
week for the past 10 years. I have more than 500 articles, and I want to
put them in a book form," said Dr. Somvichian.
He is also returning to Bangkok to give advice on the Constitution.
He said that his past experiences in politics influenced his teaching enormously.
He said, "I have the ability to apply the theoretical aspects to the
reality of politics." He also encourages his students to get into politics,
because "it is good."
Aside from his busy life he considers himself a mighty good cook.
"Cooking is an art form, one of the more serious undertaking adventures.
I consider myself a good cook. I cook Thai food, Japanese food, Filipino
food, and not to mention hamburgers and cheeseburgers. I am the cook,"
In addition to his work, Dr. Somvichian has been married for more than 30
years and has two children. His daughter Marisa was born in New York City
and raised in London. She is a professional electrical engineer. His son
Whittey is a third year law student at UC Berkeley, and he already has a
job lined up at a major law firm in Los Angeles.
Growing up, Dr. Somvichian faced many challenges. His house was bombed during
World War II by an American airplane. "We came home one day and we
didn't have a house to live in anymore. It was good that we didn't lose
our lives, but we became poor overnight," he said.
Being poor was not a problem for Dr. Somvichian because he had his family
with him. Also, Thailand, in general, was a poor country at the time.
"I would like my students to understand that they can truly excel in
An education is second to none, said Dr. Somvichian. He encourages the students
to do their parts as the professors do theirs. "I want them to be proud
of their institution and themselves," said Somvichian.