Au President Receives Award In Versailles

This week Athabasca University will be recognized internationally through the achievements of President, Dominique Abrioux. In a ceremony in Versailles France, Dr. Abrioux will receive an honorary Doctor of The University award from the Senate of the Open University [UK] in recognition of his work in areas of special educational concern to the University.

The September 13th ceremony is “the only Open University ceremony held outside of the UK : attended both by UK and European graduands:This latest recognition follows the ‘Honorary Fellow of COL Award’ [Dr. Abrioux] received earlier this year from the Commonwealth of Learning for his contribution to distance education” (Insider).

While this award is a great honor for Dr. Abrioux, he stresses that it is just as great an honor for Athabasca University. When asked to comment on his award, he had this to say:

For me, a distance educator, an honorary degree from The Open University represents the highest form of recognition that I could ever have hoped for (and certainly never expected). The Open University, after all, is simply the best open university world-wide, and as such they are primarily responsible for the positive status that open and distance learning now enjoys.

While I am personally very honored by this award, I believe that the honor is one that is being bestowed on our university. I consider my honorary degree as being a testimonial to Athabasca University’s incredible accomplishments during the past decade and its evolving national and international leadership in distance and online education. I see myself as the team captain, accepting the award on behalf of all my colleagues who have collectively demonstrated dedication and commitment in fulfilling our institutional mission.

Dominique Abrioux’s tenure as ‘Team Captain” has been a time of enormous change and growth for AU – a fact which is recognized in the Open University notice of honorary degree recipients:

A pioneer in open and distance learning, Dr Abrioux has been with Athabasca University, Canada, for 25 years and was appointed its President in 1995. Under his leadership, the university – Canada’s open university – has more than doubled its student complement. It now has 26,000 adult learners in 65 countries. He has held a number of positions with international open education organisations.

One of these organizations is “the Board of Management of the Alberta Economic Development Authority (AEDA)” where Dr. Abrioux has been asked to serve “as a member of the Labour Force Committee” (Insider).

This award also reciprocates the Honorary Doctor of Letters which AU bestowed on the Open University’s Sir John Daniel at the June 13, 1998 convocation. Daniels – a one time AU “staff member, a student, and a drop out” – spoke of Dr. Abrioux in his acceptance speech:

“I am very proud to have spotted his immense talent early and asked him to start AU’s language programme. When I saw that with a racket in his hand he was even more ferociously competitive than Sam Smith I knew he would go far. You are extraordinarily fortunate that he is now guiding the destinies of AU with Marie-Louise to support him” (Daniels).

Dr. Abrioux’s term as AU president will end in 2005, although he says he doesn’t “have any plans to leave AU” and he hopes “to end [his] career here doing academic work and contributing in any way deemed meaningful” (In the words of the President). He continues to work with the AU Center for Language and Literature and to tutor one AU French course.


Dominique Abrioux, Profile:
Insider (Jan 24, 2003). President to Receive Honorary Award.
Sesame (2003). Honorary Graduates 2003. Online at:
Sir John Daniel’s Acceptance Speech, AU, June 1998. Online at:
In the words of the President: Interview:

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