High praise for H. Ian Macdonald’s Commonwealth years


York President Emeritus H. Ian Macdonald (right), who is also a professor emeritus of public policy & economics, has concluded nearly a decade as Chair of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL), an intergovernmental agency seen as a world pace-setter in open and distance learning. As Chair, he was associated with some 625 projects in the 54-nation Commonwealth and conducted numerous missions.

Macdonald was in Edinburgh at the 15th triennial Conference of Commonwealth Education Ministers in October, where he presented the final report from his term of office. At the conference, it was noted that, initially appointed for a three-year term, Macdonald was twice invited to extend it.

“May I take this opportunity to thank you for everything you have achieved during your chairmanship and for providing COL with such solid foundations for the future,” said Commonwealth Secretary-General Donald McKinnon in his farewell to Macdonald. “I very much hope that we will continue to benefit from your involvement in Commonwealth matters in the years to come.

Prime Minister Jean Chrétien also acknowledged Macdonald’s contributions to the COL. “During your tenure you have shown strong leadership and served with great distinction. Your dedication to distance education in the Commonwealth, illustrating a commitment to investing in the future in the developing world, has been most appreciated.”

Recently, Macdonald was appointed senior advisor to the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management, and is working on a variety of projects for the training of senior public servants and the reform of government throughout the Commonwealth.

Left: H. Ian Macdonald as president of York University

An economist and academic who held senior posts in the Ontario government, Macdonald was York University’s third president and vice-chancellor, serving from 1974 to 1984. Currently, he is the graduate program director of the Public Administration Program at York’s Schulich School of Business.

Among his many honours and awards, Macdonald has received a Rhodes scholarship, Vanier Medal for Public Service, Citation of Merit from the Court of Canadian Citizenship, Award of Merit of the Canadian Bureau for International Education, Knight of Grace of the Order of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem, Governor General’s Medal, Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Canadian Confederation and Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. In addition, Macdonald is an officer of the Order of Canada.

The Commonwealth of Learning is an intergovernmental organization created by Commonwealth heads of government to encourage the development and sharing of open learning/distance education knowledge, resources and technologies. Headquartered in Vancouver, COL is helping developing nations improve access to quality education and training. It is the only official Commonwealth agency located outside Britain and is the world’s only intergovernmental organization solely concerned with the promotion and development of distance education and open learning.