The Tun Abdul Razak Chair Program


The Tun Abdul Razak Chair at Ohio University is the only one of its kind in the United States of America. Named in honor of the second Prime Minister of Malaysia and established in 1979 with funds provided by the Malaysian government, Ohio University, and 38 private American and Malaysian corporations, the Tun Abdul Razak Chair at Ohio University has brought unique opportunities to advance greater knowledge and awareness of Malaysian history, culture, economic, social and political life in the United States.

The Malaysian government has placed education at the heart of their development planning. Guided by visionary leaders like Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Tun Abdul Razak bin Hussein, Tun Hussein Onn, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak, and the current Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysians have progressively built an educational infrastructure and a national education system that have sent thousands of their best and brightest to study abroad, and they have linked their education policies to their overall national development plans (Vision 2020).

The Tun Abdul Razak Chair at Ohio University as a reflection of Malaysia’s commitment to higher education

For Ohio University, it has been a source of great pride to have been entrusted by the Malaysian government with the education of many of its citizens and to have been able to build strong educational partnerships with many Malaysian educational institutions. More than 2,400 Malaysians have degrees from Ohio University. The unique partnership with Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) has been a special source of satisfaction and we are highly honored by the opportunity we had in assisting ITM (now UiTM) develop as a modern university, particularly its business and communication school. UiTM has now attained international recognition as a leading university in Southeast Asia. We are also very proud of our partnership with Tenaga Nasional and with the Sarawak Civil Service that resulted in many Malaysians earning business degrees.

The Chair program brings a senior Malaysian scholar to Ohio University for up to a two-year appointment. The Chair’s primary role is to teach and conduct research at Ohio University in Athens, OH; to perform regional, national, and international outreach activities; and to assist in organizing the Razak Lecture held in Malaysia.  In the last nearly four decades, serving as the intellectual envoy of Malaysia to the U.S., 15 Chairs  have contributed to strengthening partnerships between the two countries, educated numerous Ohio University students on topics related to Malaysia or Southeast Asia, paved ways for Ohio University faculty to travel to Malaysia, and held numerous symposium and conferences at Ohio University and in Malaysia.

Examples of activities in which Tun Abdul Razak Chairs participate include:

  • Carry out teaching and research in the Chair’s area(s) of specialization
  • Supervise undergraduate and graduate students and post-doctoral fellows undertaking research projects in the Chair’s area(s) of specialization
  • Exchange knowledge and explore opportunities for further collaborations at OHIO, and with other institutions, agencies and foundations and government officials across the United States of America and internationally by organizing or giving lectures and seminars, and attending conferences and meetings consistent with the role of the Chair
  • Promote research and the accumulation of research resources, in one or more fields related to Malaysian Studies and other areas of mutual interest
  • Promote greater awareness and understanding and to advance relationships between Malaysia and United States of America
  • Visit other leading universities with Southeast Asian Studies centers and other academic institutions, national conferences and other appropriate intellectual and cultural venues.
  • Be resource for the Malaysian Embassy and groups like the Malaysian-American Chamber of Commerce, the Asia Society and the US-ASEAN Business Council. In particular, to serve as an important resource to support their public affairs, educational and cultural activities. More broadly, Tun Abdul Razak Chair-holders may also be a resource for the Malaysian government, institutions and business organizations and can help build connections with U.S. institutions, organizations and businesses in a mutually beneficial way.
  • Serve as an expert available to news media organizations regarding important events affecting Malaysia and Southeast Asia. Ohio University will inform select news media organizations of the Tun Abdul Razak Chair-holder as an expert for background information and interviews regarding important events affecting Malaysia and Southeast Asia.
  • In collaboration with the Education Malaysia Departments in the three North American regions, be an informal resource for Malaysian students in the U.S.  The chair-holder is also a resource for American and international students seeking knowledge about Malaysia and surrounding regions.
  • Assist with ongoing and future university-led efforts to continue to strengthen the Chair and obtain additional resources from governmental, foundation, corporate or individual contributors to the Tun Abdul Razak Chair.