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MIT Sloan announces collaboration with Malaysia’s central bank to found the Asia School of Business in Kuala Lumpur

Professor Charles Fine will serve as president and dean; School will open in September 2016

April 9, 2015

MIT President L. Rafael Reif and Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz at the April 8 signing ceremony for the Asia School of Business

MIT President L. Rafael Reif and Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz at the April 8 signing ceremony for the Asia School of Business

MIT Sloan on April 8 announced a 10-year collaboration with Bank Negara Malaysia, the nation’s central bank, to establish the Asia School of Business. The school, which is scheduled to open in September 2016, will host an inaugural class of 25 to 35 students in a two-year MBA program.

“We view the founding of the ASB as an opportunity to help shape the next generation of leaders in this rapidly-developing region,” said David Schmittlein, dean of MIT Sloan. “We are delighted to join forces with Bank Negara Malaysia—and in particular Governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz—who has an exciting strategic vision and is a champion of a robust private sector.”

“The rapid growth and remarkable resilience of Asia in the recent decades have significantly increased the importance of the region in the global economy. While the journey ahead for Asia has tremendous promise, businesses will need to rise to new challenges arising from the changes that are reshaping the regional and global environment. The ASB aims to advance the frontiers of business innovation and entrepreneurship in Asia and to develop future leaders,” said Dr. Zeti Akhtar Aziz, governor of Bank Negara Malaysia and co-chair of the Asia School of Business board of governors.

MIT Sloan Professor Charles Fine will serve as the founding president and dean of the Asia School of Business.

“Our intent is to create a world-class school of management in Southeast Asia,” Fine said.

The Asia School of Business will take a practice-oriented approach to management, which is one of the hallmarks of MIT Sloan and reflects the central bank’s desire for education for practical application. “The distinguishing feature of the ASB will be the use of action learning as a core part of the educational process,” Fine said.

“Every class that we offer and every lecture that we give will be intimately connected with the companies and institutions in the region so that students emerge with a deep understanding of the business, political, and economic issues that come to play in ASEAN and beyond,” he said

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations comprises ten countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, has an economy valued at $2.4 trillion and a population of 600 million. The region is the fourth-largest export market of the U.S. and the fifth-largest overall trading partner.

The Asia School of Business’s curriculum will apply MIT Sloan’s values and approach, according to Richard Schmalensee, co-chair of the Asia School of Business, and the former dean of MIT Sloan.

“Like Sloan’s, the ASB program is based on three pillars,” he said. “The first pillar is a tradition of doing rigorous, intellectual work on the important problems businesses face. The second pillar is a global perspective, with particular emphasis on Asia for the ASB. The final pillar—which is an integral part of MIT’s history and legacy and one that the ASB will also emphasize—is a strong spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in enterprises of all sizes.”

In year one, the school will be housed within Bank Negara Malaysia’s headquarters, which is located on the cusp of Kuala Lumpur’s business district. Classes will take place in the bank’s state-of-the-art learning center and students will live at its residential campus. Architectural plans are underway to build a new campus on nearby land.

Kuala Lumpur is an English-speaking global financial center. The city has a large number of natural resources, well-developed infrastructure, and a high degree of Internet connectivity.

The Asia School of Business will ultimately have its own faculty, but in the short term professors from MIT Sloan will teach at the school and provide guest lectures. These exchanges aim to increase MIT Sloan’s knowledge of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and deepen its ties with the worldwide academic community.

Faculty at the Asia School of Business will also have exchange opportunities via MIT’s International Faculty Fellows program. Professors will spend time at MIT’s Cambridge campus participating in activities designed to boost teaching effectiveness, improve research, and enhance scholarship.

As part of the collaboration, the Asia School of Business students will spend four weeks on an educational exchange program at MIT Sloan learning about U.S. business. Students will visit companies in the Boston area, attend lectures from MIT Sloan faculty, and complete an action learning project with MIT Sloan MBA students.

The Asia School of Business will join MIT Sloan’s network of leading business schools around the world including locations in Brazil, India, China, Turkey, Portugal, and Korea. Tuition to the Asia School of Business will be in the range of $40,000 per year.

“Our goal is to be both a collaborator and investor in the success of the ASB,” said Professor S.P. Kothari, deputy dean of MIT Sloan. “We hope and expect that it will become an institution of which we can be proud, not just within ASEAN, but globally, as well.”