FAYETTE, Iowa (July 15, 2011) – Upper Iowa University has named Kalai Ponniah as Malaysia Programs Director for the UIU Office of International Programs.
"We are very pleased to have someone with Kalai’s qualifications to lead development of our academic offerings in Malaysia," said UIU President Alan G. Walker. "He brings a global experience in higher education and a Malaysian heritage that will greatly benefit both UIU and our students."
"Our academic programs already have a strong reputation in Malaysia," added Christopher Sanders, UIU vice president for international programs. "Kalai will be taking UIU’s programs to the next level of excellence."
Ponniah will work to enhance Upper Iowa University's undergraduate programs that are offered in Malaysia through partnership with SEGi University College. Students currently have the ability to study all four years in Malaysia to obtain an Upper Iowa University (UIU) Bachelor's degree through the UIU/SEGi American Degree Program; or, after the first year, students may choose to transfer to the UIU-Fayette campus in the United States. Either way, students will be able to earn an American education through a fully accredited American university, Ponniah said. Initially, Ponniah will work to develop and enhance the UIU educational model at the SEGi campus in Kota Damansara.
"We are the only American university to have an actual physical presence with staff and faculty in Malaysia," Ponniah said. "I will be setting up our office, recruiting staff and faculty members, and setting up an association to work with the strong group of Malaysian alumni that UIU already has. We will work to make UIU more visible in the Malaysian education industry and aggressively recruit new students."
UIU offers six undergraduate degree programs in Malaysia including marketing, management, psychology, communications, business administration, and finance. When the enhancements are working well in Kota Damansara, Ponniah will work to expand to other SEGi campuses in Subang Jaya, Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Kuching, where UIU programs are currently ongoing.
“My focus is on how I can make UIU a better university in the Malaysian environment,” Ponniah added. “UIU will have a much stronger presence and be more visible in Malaysia. We will be able to serve students better because they can come directly to our office for help and advice, and the UIU programs will have the type of support they need to ensure excellent academic quality.”
Ponniah is originally from Malaysia and said he sees his work with UIU as “giving back.”
“Many students in Malaysia value receiving an American degree and want first-hand experience with the American system of education,” he added. “However, many of them simply cannot afford to study in the United States. The UIU approach provides them with that American experience they are looking for, but close to their home.”
Ponniah earned his bachelor of laws degree with honors from Wolverhampton University and his master’s degree in international and comparative business law from London Guildhall University, both in the United Kingdom. Ponniah worked for the UK Employment Department Group, before joining the Malaysian Insurance Institute and then, later Coopers & Lybrand in Kuala Lumpur. In 1999, he joined INTI International University Malaysia to establish its law school. In 2006, he moved to Canada and became academic chair of the Legal Assistant Program of SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary, Alberta.
He and his wife, Sharni, have relocated to Malaysia.
Monica Bayer Heaton
Executive Director of Communications and Marketing
About Upper Iowa University
Founded in 1857, Upper Iowa University is a private, not-for-profit university providing undergraduate and graduate degree programs and leadership development opportunities to nearly 6,800 students—nationally and internationally—at its Fayette campus and learning centers worldwide. Upper Iowa University is a recognized innovator in offering accredited, quality programs through flexible, multiple delivery systems, including online and independent study. For more information, visit www.uiu.edu.