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Government professor meets with Cambodia's king

Mertha, right, meets King Norodom Sihamoni.

Being president of an academic center does not usually come with access to royalty, but for Andrew Mertha, professor of government, it does.

Mertha was appointed president last year of the Center for Khmer Studies (CKS), one of Cambodia’s leading scholarly organizations. On Jan. 10, he and his fellow CKS executives were granted a lengthy audience with the king of Cambodia, His Majesty Norodom Sihamoni (whose full title is 32 words long).

Mertha explained that in addition to the numerous programs that CKS manages aimed to increase opportunities for advanced scholarship of Cambodia, CKS also has a set of libraries in its office complex, for which the king is a patron.

“We spoke for about an hour in a combination of French, English and Khmer about the goals of CKS in expanding its programs to better serve the educational needs of Cambodia scholars and of the country more generally,” said Mertha. “I personally spoke to His Majesty about my desire and professional goal of increasing awareness of and interest in Cambodia among new generations of Cornell undergraduates.”

CKS is the only American Overseas Research Center located in Mainland Southeast Asia, and Mertha is its first new president in more than 15 years.

- Linda B. Glaser