CSU Alumnus Deals with Aftermath of the Indonesian Tsunami

By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)

On December 22, a tsunami struck the Sunda Strait in Indonesia without warning, causing tremendous damage to structures and the loss of hundreds of lives. One of the country’s leaders who is dealing with the aftermath of this tragedy is Basuki Hadimuljono (M.S., ’89; Ph.D., ’92), the minister of Public Works and Public Housing.

Soldiers were dispatched to assist in the search and rescue efforts after the tsunami. Photo courtesy Indonesian National Armed Forces

In recent years, Indonesia has made huge investments in infrastructure, and Basuki Hadimuljono is the person in charge. He has overseen construction ranging from massive public housing projects to new roads and reservoirs. Another Indonesian minister commented on the dramatic pace of this development: “It’s Basuki who deserves the accolades. He doesn’t talk much, but his achievements are real.”

After earning a bachelor’s degree at Gadjah Mada University, Basuki began his career in the Ministry of Public Works. When he decided to pursue graduate degrees in civil engineering, he did some research and learned from individuals in USAID and the international community as well as from CSU alumni on the faculty at Indonesian universities that Colorado State University was the leading institution for studying water. So, he packed up his family and headed to Fort Collins.

Basuki Hadimuljono at the site of one of the many major construction projects he has overseen in his role as minister of Public Works and Public Housing.

Looking back, he praises the academic environment at CSU. He also is grateful for the assistance he received not only with professional but also personal issues during his time here. He particularly appreciates the moral support and assistance with immigration he received during his Ph.D. program. According to him, this assistance not only boosted his confidence but also was the encouragement he needed to complete the degree. His son, Neil Andika (M.S.,’16), was born in Fort Collins and named after his father’s graduate adviser, Neil Grigg (Ph.D., ’69), a faculty member in Civil Engineering.

Upon graduation, Basuki returned to work in Indonesia’s Ministry of Public Works. He served as the head of the Research and Development Unit of the Ministry from 2005 to 2007 and then became inspector general, a position he held from 2007 to 2013.

Basuki obviously is a popular public figure in Indonesia, as this crush of people trying to get selfies with him illustrates.

After Basuki served a brief stint as the director general of Spatial Planning, President Joko Widodo appointed him minister in 2014.

This is not the first disaster Basuki has dealt with during his career. Earlier in fall of 2018, an earthquake stuck Indonesia, killing hundreds and doing significant damage to structures. On December 26, 2004, an Indian Ocean tsunami killed more than 120,000 in Indonesia. His work in the aftermath of that disaster earned him the prestigious social welfare (Satyalencana Kesejahteraan Sosial) medal.

Basuki also has received medals for length of service as well as Indonesia’s medal of honor (Bintang Bhayangkara Utama). In 2017, he received a Distinguished Honorary Fellow award from the ASEAN Federation of Engineering Organizations and an International Lifetime Contribution Award from the Japan Society of Civil Engineers.

We send our thoughts and prayers to Basuki and his fellow Indonesians as they deal with this most recent tragedy, and we salute him for his outstanding work over the course of his career.