Professor Brenda Gourley
Professor Brenda Gourley, Vice-Chancellor of The Open University, is the new chair of the Council of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
She has been Vice-Chancellor of The Open University since January 2002. Currently a member of the board of the International Association of Universities, she became South Africa’s first woman vice-chancellor when she was appointed to the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 1994.
In South Africa, Professor Gourley has served as board member on three influential national bodies, including the South African Institute of Distance Education, and the Centre for Higher Education Transformation - chairing the latter in 2001. She has in addition chaired the South African Universities' Vice-Chancellors' Association (now Higher Education South Africa).
At The Open University she has pursued its social justice agenda, and has a belief in education as a tool to tackle the growing inequalities in a global society.
Professor Gourley said: “More than ever before, collaborative networks deliver enormous benefits to their participants. Together we learn more; together we are able more effectively to tackle issues relevant to all of us in a global society; together we are able to leverage the vital role that higher education plays in improving the lives of people and societies. ACU has for many years promoted these aims and all its members recognise that.”
She has several honorary degrees for her contribution to higher education and has been named as one of the Global Business Network's “remarkable people”.
A qualified chartered accountant, she began her career at the University of Natal as a part-time tutor in financial accounting, rising over the following 20 years to become Senior Lecturer, Professor, Dean and Deputy Vice-Chancellor before her appointment as Vice-Chancellor.
Professor Gourley has chaired the ACU Council before, from 1996-97. She takes over from Professor Kottilil Mohandas, Vice-Chancellor of the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology, India, who remains on the Council.
Professor John Tarrant, Acting Secretary General of the ACU, said that Professor Gourley’s knowledge and vision would be an immense asset to the Association.