About Jack Munishian (1923 – 2005)
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 from 1972 to 1976.
Educated as a physicist, Munushian began teaching at USC while he was still working at the Hughes Aircraft Company where he eventually became the head of the Applied Physics Division. 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.