The Meek School of Journalism and New Media is partnering with Ethiopian Airlines to launch an online integrated marketing communications graduate degree program for employees of the airline group.
The new partnership between the airline group and the Ethiopian Aviation Academy could also offer training programs that would teach academy members how to effectively market their airline.
Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam and managing director of the Ethiopian Aviation Academy Solomon Debebe Kebere visited Ole Miss last week to make the agreement official.
Meek School of Journalism and New Media dean Will Norton said he believes this collaboration will raise the profile of the school.
“Ethiopian Airlines is the largest airline in Africa. It has the most modern fleet in the world, so that’s a pretty significant group of people to be teaching,” Norton said.
The partnership will help promote Ethiopian Airlines and will create educational opportunities, including an exchange program which will allow Ole Miss students to study abroad at the Ethiopian Aviation Academy, and vice versa.
The deal has been in the works since early March, when Norton and director of international programs for Meek School of Journalism and New Media Zenebe Beyene traveled to Rwanda and Ethiopia to set up international partnerships to potentially offer more options for the integrated marketing communications graduate program.
Beyene recently came to the university from Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia. He promotes international programs in the Meek School and to teaches journalism classes and special classes on conflict resolution.
“This partnership is all about establishing a collaboration between the University of Mississippi and Ethiopian Airlines, which is the largest airline in Africa,” Beyene said. “They have this huge demand for skilled man-power, and they know they cannot do that by themselves, so they have been looking for partners.
Beyene is from Ethiopia and has personal connections with some of the people at Ethiopian Airlines. When he got the offer to work with the Meek School, Beyene contacted the CEO of Ethiopian Airlines and told the airline about the opportunity.
“They were so excited,” Beyene said. “That is the reason they probably signed the memorandum of understanding in two months’ time.”
This partnership will start with the establishment of an integrated marketing communications online graduate program. Once established, the course will be available for the employees of Ethiopian Airlines. The course is self-administered and self-paced.
Beyene explained that once the material for the course is made available, an Ole Miss professor may go to Ethiopia at the beginning of the semester for orientation. A professor will also go to Ethiopia at the end of the semester to see if the students have mastered the course and to identify their weaknesses and strengths.
The school will likely send students to Ethiopia every year for varying purposes, including working an internship or attending school as part of a study abroad.
“This partnership will bring multidimensional benefits to the Meek School,” Beyene said. “It promotes cultural understanding; it helps us to understand each other better. When a student goes to Ethiopia… you see the marketing aspect of integrated marketing communications our student learns and… how marketing is done from the American perspective. How about the global perspective?”
There is also a possibility that the program could expand outside of the Meek School in the future.
Beyene said he wants people to realize that the market competition is not at the national or local levels. Rather, the competition is at the global level, and the university should make sure that the students are prepared.
“Are we making our students ready for this fierce, global competitive market?” Beyene said. “Are we making our students ready? Are we making our students marketable? This partnership will give our students and faculty exposure to this new reality that comes with globalization.”