President and Chief Executive Officer The Commonwealth of Learning

Professor Gajaraj Dhanarajan ("Raj") joined COL as its second President on September 1, 1995.

During the past seventeen years, Dr. Dhanarajan has participated in establishing a number of distance education systems in South and Southeast Asia, and organised a successful network of distance education research in Asia with support from Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC).

Starting his career as a research officer and lecturer with the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Science in Malaysia, Dr. Dhanarajan became increasingly involved in distance education. He later served as Associate Professor in Distance Education and Deputy Director of the university's Centre for Off-Campus Studies.

He joined the newly established Open Learning Institute of Hong Kong (now the Open University of Hong Kong) in 1989 as Associate Director (Academic), and served as Director from 1991-1995. In 1992, the Institute honoured Dr. Dhanarajan by conferring on him the title of Professor, and then Professor Emeritus in 1995. Also in 1992, the University of Maryland University College (USA) awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters. In July 1994, he was conferred with an Order of Chivalry (which conveys the title of Dato') by the State of Penang, Malaysia, and in June 1995, the British Open University conferred its Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University on him; in February 1996, Kota Open University in Rajasthan, India, conferred on him a Doctor of Letters (honoris causa); in October 1996, The College of Preceptors, London, awarded him an Honorary Fellowship; in November 1996, The University of Abertay Dundee conferred on him an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Education; and, in April 1998, Charles Sturt University conferred on him Doctor of the University, honoris causa. In November 1997, he received the first Asian Association of Open Universities Meritorious Service Award to the Cause of Distance Education in Asia. In June 1999, Athabasca University in Canada conferred on him an honorary Doctor of Letters.

Dr. Dhanarajan was (until August 1995) also the Secretary General of the Asian Association of Open Universities, has been on the Executive Board of the International Council for Distance Education (ICDE), was educational advisor to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, and has served on several international consultancy bodies.

He is a Malaysian citizen and holds B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from the University of Madras, an M.Sc. from the University of London and a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Aston in Birmingham.

The Commonwealth of Learning was created by Commonwealth Governments to widen opportunities for learning, by promoting co-operation between Commonwealth educational institutions, with a particular emphasis on utilising the potential of distance education/open learning and the application of communication technologies to education. It aims to strengthen the capacities of Commonwealth member countries to advance their economic and social development.