CONTACT: Tom Daniels, 614/593-4885, or Paul Nelson, 614/593-4884

ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio University College of Communication will launch a master's degree program in mass communication by the summer or fall at the MARA Institute of Technology (ITM) outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Ohio University will be the first American university to offer a graduate degree program in communication at the Malaysian institution, which has a strong undergraduate communication program in place.

Two representatives from ITM's School of Mass Communication will visit the Athens campus Wednesday through Friday (Jan. 17-19) to discuss program curriculum and review applications with Ohio University College of Communication administrators and faculty. Baharuddin Hj. Aziz, dean of the ITM School of Communication, and Sankaran Ramanathan, a senior mass communication faculty member, are scheduled to arrive on campus late today (Jan. 16) and begin meetings Wednesday morning. Ramanathan earned a master's degree in journalism at Ohio University in 1974.

President Robert Glidden and ITM Director Datuk Tan Haji Zaidee Laidin signed an agreement establishing the program during Glidden's fall quarter trip to Malaysia.

Under the agreement, students at ITM will earn an Ohio University master's degree in mass communication. Between 20 and 30 students are expected to be in the first class, and the coursework is expected to take two years to complete.

College of Communication Dean Paul Nelson said Ohio University faculty, primarily from the schools of Telecommunications and Journalism, will travel to ITM each quarter to administer the program. "There will be at least two graduate-level instructors there at a time, one teaching and one serving primarily as a coordinator, who also will teach," Nelson said. The first round of faculty has not been selected yet, he said.

ITM will cover all expenses for the program, Nelson said.

"ITM invited this," said Nelson. "Malaysia is heavily into broadcasting and mass communication, but it doesn't have a lot of the resources needed to teach a graduate degree program, and we do.

"ITM is borrowing what we know about mass communication and modern technology, and it's really a smart way to go," Nelson said. "We've become the graduate school of the world in America, because we can provide the technological and journalistic training."

The College of Communication also maintains relationships with other institutions abroad, including the School of Journalism's exchange program with the University of Leipzig in Germany; the School of Telecommunications' training of broadcasters in the Baltic countries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia; and the School of Interpersonal Communication's joint doctoral program with Bangkok University in Thailand. Ohio University has had an institutional relationship with the MARA Institute of Technology since 1968. The College of Business offers a full-time MBA program and weekend executive MBA program for senior working professionals there.

- 30 -