On Oct. 5, Boise State University Distinguished Professor Nancy Napier received Vietnam’s Medal of Friendship, the country’s highest medal awarded to foreigners who have made contributions to the country and helped build friendship between Vietnam and their countries.
Napier began working in Vietnam in 1994, when she taught at Hanoi-based National Economic University (NEU) in a program to “train the trainers.” The program was funded by a Swedish government agency to help the country move toward a market-oriented economy, under a Vietnamese government initiative called “Doi Moi,” while maintaining its dominant socialist government.
Napier’s first visit evolved into a nine-year, $8.5 million capacity building project managed by Boise State and funded by Sweden and USAID. The program trained Vietnamese university educators and business people, many of whom had been trained in Soviet-bloc countries, in market economics and western style business skills and practices. All of the participants in the three cohorts spent several months on campus in Boise and interned at numerous cooperating Boise-based companies and agencies. Ultimately all earned their MBAs from Boise State before commencing the next step in the program — developing and delivering their own MBA programs at the National Economics University. The program ultimately graduated 84 MBAs to graduates who now teach, do research and are in administration roles throughout the country. Several of the business people who graduated have started their own successful firms and work for foreign and Vietnamese companies. Some of the children of those graduates now attend Boise State, as well.
Napier was awarded Vietnam’s Medal of Friendship, approved by Vietnam’s president, and conferred by the National Economics University’s Rector Professor Tran Tho Dat. As Rector Dat said, “I can count the number of foreigners who have received the Friendship Medal on my two hands. It is a big honor for Boise State University and Professor Napier.”