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Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis and First Lady Deborah McDavis accompany Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin as he is greeted by members of the OHIO community outside Baker University Center.

Photographer: Chris Franz

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Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis introduces Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin to members of the OHIO community.

Photographer: Chris Franz

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Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin’s visit to the Athens Campus for International Education Week included a conversation between him and OHIO President Roderick J. McDavis.

Photographer: Chris Franz

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Malaysia @ Ohio University kicks off International Education Week

By celebrating a long-standing international partnership, Ohio University wrote a new chapter in its history Tuesday, launching the first International Education Week on campus with the celebration "Malaysia @ Ohio University: Celebrating Five Decades of Strategic Partnership."

The event, which included speeches from Ohio University President Roderick J. McDavis and Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin, who is also the Minister of Education, reflected on the relationship forged in 1965 between the University and the then newly-independent Southeast Asian country.

"International education has always been at the forefront of the educational mission of Ohio University," McDavis told the group gathered in Baker University Center. "Founded in 1804 as the first university in the Northwest Territory, we welcomed our first international student in 1896. Since then, the University's international population has continued to grow. This fall semester, there are 1,881 international students, representing more than 100 countries, enrolled at Ohio University."

Malaysia is counted among those countries, with 21 Malaysian students taking classes on campus as well as endowed chair professor in Southeast Asian Studies, the Tun Abdul Razak Chair Habibah Ashari. The country also boasts the largest group of Ohio University alumni outside of the United States – more than 2,400.

"Ohio University has been playing a major role in Malaysia's development for the last five decades," Tan Sri Muhyiddin said. 

Beginning in 1968, when the University began the first programs in Business and Commerce with Institut Teknologi Mara (ITM), to 1981, when the Tun Abdul Razak Chair in Southeast Asian Studies was established in the University's Center for International Studies, the partnership has been fruitful for both countries. In 1987, the Malaysian Resource Center in the Vernon R. Alden Library became the sole repository for Malaysian materials in North America.

In his role as the country's minister of education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin identified the importance of improving education in a keynote speech titled "Malaysian Higher Education in the 21st Century." He spoke of the country's recent strides in improving literacy rates, the dedication of nearly 20 percent of the country's budget to education and the establishment of the Ministry of Education to "encourage the development of human capital and nation builders."

"Malaysian leaders have always placed emphasis on education and the importance of remaining competitive with economic leaders in the world," Tan Sri Muhyiddin said. He commented that the number of Malaysians holding degrees from American universities speaks to the confidence they have in American higher education.

Each leader called for the continuation of this solid partnership. "We reaffirm our commitment to international education, to the education of our future generation to become global citizens, and to the partnerships between our two countries," McDavis said.

To encourage future educational exchange, McDavis also called attention to an Ohio University initiative that offers in-state tuition for 15 Malaysian scholarship recipients – a program that he hopes to see more Malaysian students take advantage of in the future.

For his part, Tan Sri Muhyiddin encouraged OHIO students to study abroad in Malaysia, where he said opportunities are rich for study and research in tropical diseases, traditional complementary medicines and biodiversity.

"I hope that the little I have said will pique your interest in our country," laughed Tan Sri Muhyiddin, before officially declaring Ohio University's first International Education Week open.

For more information on International Education Week, visit