Title: Emeritus Professor
Company: University of New South Wales
Location: Canberra, Australia
Carlyle A. Thayer, has been recognized by Marquis Who’s Who Top Educators for dedication, achievements, and leadership in Southeast Asian studies, with special expertise on Vietnam, and professional military education. Dr. Thayer holds dual nationality as an American and naturalized Australian.
Dr. Thayer’s interest in world politics emerged during his undergraduate studies at Brown University. During these formative years, landmark historical events took place such as the Vietnam War and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Dr. Thayer developed an intense scholarly interest in the Sino-Soviet dispute, politics in Southeast Asia and communist decision-making in Vietnam. He earned a BA degree from Brown University in 1967. Motivated to do more in his life, Dr. Thayer served in Vietnam as a civilian with the International Voluntary Services (1967-68) and in Botswana as a secondary school teacher with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (1968-69). He then received a Master of Arts in Southeast Asian Studies at Yale University.
In 1971 he accepted a postgraduate research scholarship at the Australian National University (ANU) and was awarded a PhD in international relations in 1977. During this period, he began his academic career as a tutor in Asian Civilisation at the ANU. He then taught at the Bendigo College of Advanced Education in Victoria from 1975-78.
In 1979 Dr. Thayer joined the academic staff of the University of New South Wales (UNSW) and taught first in its Faculty of Military Studies at the Royal Military College-Duntroon and then transferred to University College at the Australian Defence Force Academy in 1985. He rose through the academic ranks from Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, to Associate Professor and played a major role in designing the Master of Arts in Defence Study. In 1987, he earned a Certificate in National Security Studies by attending a NATO-sponsored summer course at Christian Albrechts Universität in Kiel, Germany. He served as Head of the Department of Politics from 1995-97 and pioneered the delivery of the Master of Arts in Defence Studies by distance education using internet technology. In 1998 he was promoted to full Professor.
Dr. Thayer’s career included four major periods away from UNSW. He was seconded to the ANU’s Department of Political and Social Change from 1992-95 to conduct research on Vietnam. In 1993, in a career highlight, he was appointed a United Nations observer for elections in Cambodia.
Dr. Thayer was a founding member of the Vietnam Studies Association of Australia and served three terms as national secretary/treasurer (1994-98). He also served as national secretary of the Asian Studies Association of Australia (1996-98).
Another highlight of Dr. Thayer’s career came in 1999 when he was given leave in Australia’s national interest to take up a senior post at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS), U.S. Pacific Command, in Hawaii. He distinguished himself by overhauling the curriculum for the Executive Course and developing the curriculum for the first Senior Executive Course.
During his three years at APCSS about 500 senior foreign service, military and intelligence officers from across the Pacific Command passed through the Executive Course, including officers from the Vietnam People’s Army. Dr. Thayer was conferred the Joint Meritorious Service Award for his contributions.
In 2002, on return to Australia, Dr. Thayer was seconded to Deakin University for three years as their on-site academic coordinator at the Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies at the Australian Defence College. Dr. Thayer developed the curriculum for Australia’s senior defence course and participated in its delivery. He resumed duties at the Defence Academy in 2005 and received the Rector’s Commendation for Excellence in Classroom Teaching the following year. Finally, Dr. Thayer was appointed Director of Regional Security at the Australian Command and Staff College for three years (2006-07 and 2009) where he introduced a crisis simulation exercise to replace the traditional written final examination.
During his academic career, Dr. Thayer took sabbatical leave at a number of prestigious institutions including the Center for International Affairs at Harvard University, Department of Political Science at Yale University, Institute of Security and International Studies (Bangkok), International Institute for Strategic Studies (London), Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (Singapore), and ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre (Canberra). He was honoured with appointments as the C. V. Starr Distinguished Visiting Professor at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University (2005) and the Inaugural Frances M. and Stephen H. Fuller Distinguished Visiting Professor at Ohio University (2008).
Dr. Thayer retired from UNSW in 2010 and was conferred the title emeritus professor. He remains active as Director of Thayer Consultancy, a small business, registered in Australia in 2002, that provides political analysis of current regional security issues and other research support to selected clients. He delivered more than one hundred papers to international conferences mainly on security issues in the South China Sea. As a Subject Matter Expert, Dr. Thayer addressed the Second Expanded Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Maritime Forum in Vietnam in 2014, and the following year he addressed the ASEAN-China Joint Working Group on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in the Philippines. In 2015, he was appointed Eminent Person by the Department of Defence’s Australian Civil-Military Centre to facilitate the East Asia Summit Rapid Disaster Response: Lessons Learned Seminar held in Sydney attended by senior officials from fifteen countries.
Dr. Thayer is the author of more than 500 academic publications including books, monographs, journal articles and book chapters. He has a high international media profile giving more than 200 interviews a year to Al Jazeera, BBC, Deutsche Welle, National Public Radio, Radio Free Asia, Vietnam National Television, Voice of America, Agence France Presse, Bloomberg, Deutsche Presse Agentur, Reuters, Vietnam News Agency, The New York Times, Nikkei Asian Review, South China Morning Post, and The Straits Times.
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