Charn Uswachoke (’73 M.B.A.) came to UNT to learn how to turn his entrepreneurial vision into reality.
Along the way, he found a welcoming place. Professors with ties to major corporations inspired him. He and friends attended football games at Fouts Field and basketball games at the Pit, and even traveled from Denton to the West Coast in a small Volkswagen (in the Silicon Valley, he remembers just “a small town full of orchard trees”). And UNT fueled his long-held love of jazz.
“I was away from home, but I didn’t feel like I was away because people treated me well,” he says. “I enjoyed it very much.”
The successful Thai entrepreneur has long been a generous supporter of UNT, and his latest pledged gift is another milestone.
Noted for his development of the semiconductor industry in Thailand, Uswachoke also was a senator of the Kingdom of Thailand from 1996 to 2000 and a member of its Committee on Science, Technology and Energy. He advised the Thai House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology and was an advisor to the prime minister. He also was one of the Thai Red Cross Society fundraising directors.
Uswachoke gained his entrepreneurial spirit from his father, who owned a textile factory in Thailand, and he came to UNT for his master’s degree in business administration to gain more tools to help him in his career. He looks back fondly on “very, very tough” courses with such teachers as renowned finance professor George A Christy.
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When he accepted UNT’s Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1996, Uswachoke said, “I needed a catalyst to transform my vision into reality. I found that in this university.”
In addition to learning about business, Uswachoke fed his passion for music at UNT — particularly jazz. He recalls walking from his room in Kendall Hall to other parts of campus and passing the Music Building, where he heard the One O’Clock Lab Band practicing.
“Every time we passed on a walk, I listened to them,” he says, “and I liked it.”
In fact, in 2004, Uswachoke arranged for UNT’s world-renowned One O’Clock Lab Band to perform for the King of Thailand, who joined them in the four-hour concert. At the same time, UNT presented His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej with an honorary doctorate in music. Uswachoke says the king fondly remembers hearing the One O’Clock Lab Band play at the White House in 1967.
“This trip will forever rank as one of the true high points of international performance for UNT,” says James C. Scott, dean of the College of Music.
“For many years, Charn Uswachoke has been one of the college’s most generous and helpful supporters,” Scott says. “His new gift will go beyond protecting the long-established great school we have here to allow us to compete even more effectively for the very best students and faculty anywhere.”
Uswachoke — whose son, Chawit, graduated from the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science at UNT in 2010 — says he is pleased to see his alma mater on a journey of continued excellence.
“I’m happy to do this for UNT,” he says.“I love UNT and Denton.”