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Yayasan Sime Darby contributes $750,000 to Tun Razak Chair

Unique Ohio University position strengthens ties between countries


On Dec. 8, Ohio University received a $750,000 (RM2.34 million) contribution from Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD) to support the Tun Abdul Razak Chair in Southeast Asian Studies.

According to the corporation's website, YSD is a Malaysia-based diversified multinational involved in key growth sectors: plantations, property, motors, industrial equipment and energy & utilities, with healthcare as a growing business.YSD chairman Tun Musa Hitam presented the gift to Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis at a ceremony in Bukit Kiara, a suburb of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Tun Musa is a former deputy prime minister of Malaysia and earned an honorary doctorate from Ohio University in 1980. Also present at the ceremony was Malaysia's Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

Originally funded in 1979 by the Malaysian government, Ohio University and 38 corporations, the Tun Razak Chair was the first such position established by any American university with support from a foreign government. These partners have contributed more than $2.7 million to support the chair during the past three decades. YSD's contribution brings this total to nearly $3.5 million.

"This generous gift from Yayasan Sime Darby will further enhance the national prominence and influence of the Tun Razak Chair at Ohio University," said President McDavis. "The Razak Chair is a source of great pride for Ohio University. We are very honored to have been trusted by the Malaysian government with this resource that has created strong educational partnerships between the United States and Malaysia."

According to the The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad, Tun Musa said the contribution would enable the foundation to enrich Malaysia's educational and cultural ties with the U.S. "We hope the contribution will help develop a new vision and future for the Chair, making it more visible and influential in the U.S., besides
illustrating Malaysia's accomplishment in 54 years since gaining independence," he said. "The contribution is also in tandem with YSD's support for education, which promotes excellence at various levels of education, including advanced research and studies in numerous fields."

Every two years, Malaysia's Ministry of Higher Education, in consultation with the Razak Council (made up of former Tun Razak Chairs) and Ohio University, selects a Malaysian scholar to serve in this prestigious endowed faculty position. Newest Tun Razak Chair Habibah Ashari began her appointment in July. She is director of the International Education College (INTEC) at Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and is a professor of education. Habibah is the first Tun Razak Chair from UiTM and the second woman to be granted this distinction.

Housed in Ohio University's Center for International Studies, the Tun Razak Chair teaches, conducts research and performs regional and national outreach activities in an effort to disseminate knowledge about Malaysia and to improve the understanding of and appreciation for Malaysia among key American publics.

As many as 2,400 Ohio University alumni live and work in Malaysia – the University's greatest concentration of alumni outside the United States. Many Ohio University alumni have become leaders in key sectors of Malaysian society, including business, academia, government and the media. In fact, an alumni chapter is operating in Kuala Lumpur – some 9,500 miles from Athens.