June 24, 2005 —
Munushian: A new Viterbi School chair for outstanding younger faculty will bear
name of USC's pioneer of distance learning in engineering.
The USC Viterbi School of Engineering has created a new endowed
chair to honor the late Jack Munushian who died May 28.
Provost C. L. Max Nikias has approved the chair, to be called the Jack
Munushian Early Career Chair.
Munushian, who was an emeritus professor of electrical engineering,
spearheaded the Viterbi School’s efforts to establish a distance
learning program. He organized the school’s computer science
department and served as its first chair.
"To an extent few people realize, we at the Viterbi School live in a
house that Jack built," said USC Viterbi Dean Yannis Yortsos. "Our
eminence in computer science and distance education grows directly out
of his hard work and foresight."
Educated as a physicist, Munushian began teaching at USC while he was
still working at the Hughes Aircraft Company. Munushian and the
engineering school's charismatic dean, the late Zohrab Kaprielian, had
met and become close friends while attending graduate school together
at UC-Berkeley. Munushian became a fulltime USC professor in
1967 and was an emeritus professor at the time of his death.
Munushian had a vision for a new way to educate engineers by using
television. He persuaded the Olin Foundation to help the school
of engineering establish the Instructional Television Network (ITV) in
1972 and used his ties with Hughes, Aerospace Corporation (where he had
worked before joining Hughes) and other Southern California aerospace
companies to make ITV successful.
State of the art for its time, ITV beamed graduate lectures directly
from USC to numerous specially equipped classrooms located at aerospace
company offices and factories throughout Southern California. This
arrangement enabled working engineers to continue their education
without interrupting their careers, a concept that continues today in
the Viterbi School's Distance Education Network (DEN).
In 1988, when the Institute of Institute of Electrical and
Electronics Engineers awarded its highly coveted Major Educational
Innovation Award to Munushian for his ITV achievement, the school had
recorded more than 50,000 ITV enrollments.
"We no longer use television," said DEN executive director Kelly
Goulis, "but we still rigorously honor Jack Munushian's insistence that
distance education be in every respect on a par with instruction on
Faculty appointed to an early career chair are of the assistant
professor rank and have shown distinguished accomplishments and promise
for an exceptional academic career. The first Munushian chairholder will be announced this fall.