By Jennifer Bowie
President Roderick J. McDavis today announced The Ohio University Foundation has received $1 million from the government of Malaysia to support the Tun Abdul Razak Chair in Southeast Asian Studies. The Division of University Advancement will work to raise funds to match this gift.
"The Razak Chair is the intellectual ambassador of Malaysia to the United States," McDavis said. "It is a great honor and a source of great pride for Ohio University to be entrusted by the Malaysian government with this resource and, as a result, to build strong educational partnerships in Malaysia.
"By providing the resources necessary for greater national visibility, this generous gift will enable us to enhance the national prominence and influence of the Tun Razak Chair and elevate its importance as the recognized repository of expertise on Malaysia in the United States," McDavis continued. "As a result, the chair holder will be able to promote Malaysia at a national level and build stronger ties and better bridges of understanding between Malaysia and the United States."
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.
"The creation of and support for this premier endowed chair represents an incredible commitment by a nation in our university," said President and CEO of The Ohio University Foundation Howard R. Lipman, vice president for university advancement. "We are looking forward to returning to Malaysia to work with alumni and friends, Malaysian companies and multinational corporations to seek new investments in the future of the Ohio University/Malaysia partnership and the Razak Chair."
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.
Thirteen professors from Malaysia have held the Tun Razak Chair. The newest chair, Professor Dató Dr. Mohammad Salleh Din, plans to arrive in Athens on March 15.
Salleh earned his bachelor's degree in accountancy and an MBA from Miami University (of Ohio). He received his Ph.D. in entrepreneurship and small business from the University of Durham in the United Kingdom and completed post-doctoral work in advanced management at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. Salleh is the director of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute at Universiti Utara Malaysia and is a professor of business.
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 U.S. 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.
"I'm looking forward to working with the local alumni chapter, through its president Dató Shaik Sulaiman, and with former Tun Razak Chair and Ohio University's institutional representative to Southeast Asia, Dató Dr. Zakaria Ahmad, to build additional support for the Razak Chair," Lipman said. "Our Malaysian alumni have been and continue to be very supportive, and Dató Sulaiman and Dr. Zakaria have been instrumental in their nation's ongoing support of Ohio University."
The 40-year partnership between Ohio University and Southeast Asian nations, including Malaysia, was celebrated this past weekend with a conference on the Athens campus titled "40 Years of Engagement with Southeast Asia."