Brenda Gourley

Before she joined The Open University as its 4th Vice-Chancellor, Brenda Gourley spent some 8 years as Vice Chancellor at the University of Natal, the first woman to hold such a position in South Africa.  She is a strong adherent to a social justice agenda and a firm believer in education as a tool for tackling inequalities on a global as well as a national scale.  Such views have been crucial to The Open University’s mission since its foundation.  And that mission today has become the more achievable as we witness the changing paradigm in education – a paradigm which was ushered in by, and now travels ever more swiftly and widely on, the marvels of technology.  As the world and the expectations of its peoples change, technology becomes an ever more important vehicle for the achievement of those expectations. 

In his address to the 1972 World Conference The Open University’s 1st Vice-Chancellor indicated a need for a materials exchange system to provide a wider use for high quality materials.  It is unlikely that he was thinking specifically about how this might be accomplished.  But The OU’s 4th Vice-Chancellor, Brenda Gourley, has brought this to reality through OpenLearn, its major new open content initiative which makes a range of Open University resources freely available on the internet with state-of-the art learning support and connectivity between learners and teachers. 
In pressing forward with this initiative, Brenda Gourley has established her position in the tradition of innovation, leadership and commitment which has characterised her predecessors.  ICDE has good reason to be thankful for the support which The Open University has provided to it and continues to provide to it through the input of its staff over the years.  And, as the UNESCO recognised membership body for Open and Distance Learning, it is appropriate that it should recognise, on behalf of students and practitioners in this area throughout the world, the debt which is owed to the institution and its leadership which we are recognising with both these awards.
World Conference 2015
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