From left: Drs. Anies Baswedan and Dwight King with Indonesian friends at NIU
In the following interview, Anies Baswedan, Ph.D., (political science, '07) sheds some light on how professor Dwight King helped shape his life. Anies traveled from Indonesia to the states to pursue advanced degrees in public policy. While studying on the east coast, he learned of Dr. King's reputation as an expert in Indonesian politics and enrolled at NIU to study under him. His experiences in DeKalb have opened doors for him including his current role as president of Paramadina University in Jakarta, Indonesia. Anies and his wife have four children.
Q. Why did you choose NIU to pursue your doctorate?
AB: I was interested in NIU because of professor King and wanted to study under him. I had heard many good things about him while he taught at my undergraduate university, but had never met him in person. He had a great reputation as an expert in Indonesian politics.
Q. How did your experience at NIU prepare you for your career?
AB: It has set me up tremendously. The training in research and teaching allows me to set a new level—higher level—of academic standards that enable me to pursue my career as it is today.
Q. What role did the Center for Southeast Asian Studies play in your successful academic career here?
AB: I was exposed to a country from a regional perspective. The interactions with other scholars of Southeast Asia from various fields have equipped me to understand this region much better. The benefit of these interactions is felt even today. I have given many lectures and spoken at various international forums in the past few years. This interdisciplinary approach has been extremely useful.
Q. How did Dr. King help you in your studies?
AB: My relationship with professor King goes beyond academics. He is, and always will be, my mentor. He is also a dear friend to our family and cares very much about us. I never anticipated that I would have an academic adviser as kind as professor King.
When we arrived in DeKalb, it was right after a big blizzard in January. We drove a moving truck from Washington, D.C., and Dwight allowed my wife, our daughter, and me to stay in his home. We stayed there for almost two weeks until we got an apartment. During that time, he insisted that we store our things in his garage, while he parked his cars outside in the snow. He was so kind to us even though he had never met us before.
With time, our friendship grew. We spent hours discussing issues related to my studies. He was very demanding and challenged me to achieve high academic standards. I can't thank him enough.
I was his research assistant as well. The work he assigned me also served as learning tools for me. By working together, I learned a lot about professionalism in the academic world. He strongly influenced me on being rational and balanced. I was a student activist, and activism often colored my analysis or view. He often reminded me about that. By the middle of my time at NIU, I was able to pick up this lesson.
We also interact closely as friends. He cares about his students beyond academic matters. He often, on his own initiative, offered his support when he knew any of his students were facing difficulties.
In short, "Pak" King (that's what I call him) played an extremely important and formative role during my years of study in DeKalb. He has been a great mentor, a role model, and a friend. He has given me the foundations for my career. He has fingerprints in everything I do now.
Q. Was your goal always to be president of a university?
AB: When I finished my studies, I wanted to serve in a research institution or think-tank to help in the making of our new democracy. I initially served as a national adviser for regional autonomy and decentralization in Indonesia.
I never planned or dreamed of becoming a university president. It is a huge responsibility and I am honored to have this opportunity to serve.
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