Professor Dr. Don Olcott, Jr., FRSA, Senior Fellow and former Chair of the EDEN Council of Fellows Board, was recently awarded the 2023 ICDE Prize for Lifelong Contribution to the field of open, distance and flexible learning at the ICDE World Conference in San Jose, Costa Rica. Don was also the 2013 recipient of ICDE’s Individual Prize of Excellence for his contributions to global ODL including leading the initial collaborations between USDLA and EDEN from 2007-2010. He has also served on numerous EDEN annual conference planning committees and six years on the NAP Steering Committee.
Don is currently President of HJ Associates in Romania and is a consultant associate with Universal Learning Services (ULS) in Barcelona, Spain. He is Professor Extraordinarius at the University of South Africa in leadership and open and distance education. Don’s international contributions to OFDL have included major leadership, faculty, and administrative posts in Australia, the U.S., Germany, Romania, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom. He previously held full professor appointments at Charles Sturt University in Australia; the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) in the U.S. and honorary professor at the University of New England (Australia).
Don has published for over thirty five years in ODL, served on the editorial boards of the major ODL journals, and has been an active leader and member of numerous global organizations. He is passionate for supporting the next generation of young OFDL leaders, expanding opportunities for women in the field, and continuing to break down the digital divide and open doors and cultural pride in the developing world.
In 1998, he received the Charles Wedemeyer Outstanding Distance Education Practitioner in North America awarded by the University of Wisconsin-Madison and The American Center for the Study of Distance Education. He received similar awards in in 2005 from UPCEA and WCET and was elected president of the U.S. Distance Learning Association in 2006 and Chairman of the Board in 2007. In 2010, Western Washington University honoured him with the Lifetime Achievement alumni award for outstanding contributions to U.S. and global higher education. He was made a Fellow of the European Distance and eLearning Network (EDEN) in 2010.
In 2013 he received ICDE’s Individual Prize of Excellence for his global leadership, collaboration and as an ambassador for OFDL. The following year he was inducted in to the USDLA Hall of Fame having served on the Board of Directors for sixteen years; in 2016 he received the Stanley Drazak award for outstanding online teaching at the University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC).As president of USDLA in 2006-007, Don’s leadership led to the creation of National Distance Learning Week (NDLW) which was offered/sponsored for the first time in the autumn of 2007 in North America. Don holds dual Canadian and U.S. citizenship.
He earned his bachelors and masters’ degrees from Western Washington University and doctorate from Oregon State University in higher education leadership. He has also completed advanced professional study at Harvard University, New York University and Cambridge University – UK. Dr. Olcott served in the United States Air Force from 1973 – 1977 and in NATO forces from 1975-1977 based at Hahn AB, Germany. He plays guitar and bass guitar. Don and his wife Nicoleta divide their time between the U.S., Canada and their primary residence in Romania.