Fred Mulder, former Rector Magnificus Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL)


On Monday 8 October 2018 we learnt with sadness that our colleague and friend, former Rector Magnificus of the Open University of the Netherlands, Fred Mulder (1949), passed away.  

Fred Mulder was one of the pioneers of the Open University of the Netherlands (OUNL) and held various positions there. In 2000 appointed member of the Executive Board of the OUNL and from 2002 until and including 2010 he was the first Rector Magnificus at the OUNL.

Fred was early and closely involved in the developments concerning the digitalization of education, such as the founding of the digital university and the national program Wikiwijs. He received a high royal honour for his efforts in the field of lifelong learning. Fred was in 2010 appointed as the first professor of Open Educational Resources (OER) with a UNESCO chair.

Fred was chair of the core group of the National Initiative Lifelong Learning, and a member of the executive committee of the European Association of Distance Teaching Universities (EADTU) and of the European e-Learning Industry Group. Additionally, he was chair of the joint taskforce Open Educational Resources of UNESCO and the International Council for Open and Distance Teaching Education (ICDE). In 2011 Fred was awarded the ICDE Individual Prize for his contribution to the international Open Educational Resources (OER) movement. He worked and propagated on open education, OER, and MOOCS (Massive Open Online Courses) in Africa and Asia in cooperation with UNESCO. Internationally Fred was considered to be one of the iconic leaders of the Open Education movement.

Furthermore, Fred was founder of the Global OER Graduate Network (GO-GN) which created a Fred Mulder Award for Best Open Education Research Paper and Best Open Research Practice that will be granted in 2019 for the first time.[1] Fred was involved in the project ‘Mind of the Universe’ of the public Dutch broadcasting organization VPRO; an ambitious Open Source project that attracted world-wide attention. This led for instance to an Honorary Fellowship for Fred at the Open University of China.

Fred Mulder has been and will always be a role model and inspirer for our work in ICDE Open Educational Resources (OER) Advocacy Committee. Fred was passionately convinced of the importance of education for the development of people and enabling access to high quality higher education for anyone. Fred had a tremendous knowledge in the field of open education, and was always keen to communicate, network and encourage others, and he was able to convince and motivate people by his personal approach. We will with pleasure continue our work in the spirit of Fred, and his professionally, motivational, including, inspiring and personal endeavors.

Our thoughts, and condolences goes to his family.

Ebba Ossiannilsson
Associate Professor, Dr.
Chair, Ambassador ICDE Open Educational Resources (OER) Advocacy Committee