Brenda Mary Gourley (born December 1, 1943) was the Vice-Chancellor of the Open University from 2002 until 2009.
Gourley is a qualified Chartered Accountant and was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Natal, South Africa for eight years. When appointed at Natal in 1994 she was South Africa's first female Vice-Chancellor. The Brenda M Gourley Scholarship is awarded in her honour at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal for 'the undergraduate student ranked second in the full range of undergraduates throughout the University.'
She was appointed the fourth Vice-Chancellor of the Open University in 2002. Gourley made a special effort to inspire the Open University to engage with Africa. This involved raising substantial funds to enable them to offer their services to Africa. Gourley ensured that The Open University was the first British university to make a large selection of its educational resources freely available on the web, and she continues to champion the Open Educational Resource movement. She supports the role of Higher Education in promoting social justice and finding a sustainable way of out of poverty.
Gourley was a Founder Member of the Talloires Network of universities and educational institutions; an organisation that is aimed at strengthening the civic roles of universities and higher education. She served as Chair, for two terms, of the Association of Commonwealth Universities.
Gourley has been on the board of the University of Brighton since April 2011 Gourley is an independent non-executive director on the board of the South African listed company, AdvTech Ltd, and on the Board of Trustees of the charity group, IADP, the International Association for Digital Publications, that seeks to improve the educational experience and outcome of tertiary education in developing countries. She is an elected Councillor on the City and Guilds of London Institute  and a Trustee of The Royal Anniversary Trust which awards the biennial Queen's Anniversary Prize. Gourley has been a member of the Global Business Network of ‘remarkable’ people since 1995.
Honours and awards
- Honorary Degree: LLD, University of Nottingham, United Kingdom (1997)
- Honorary Degree: D.HLett, University of Richmond, United Kingdom (2004
- Honorary Degree: D.Ed, by the University of Abertay, United Kingdom (2004)
- Honorary Degree: D.Phil, Allama Iqbal Open University, Pakistan (2007) in recognition of her eminence in the field of Distance Education and distinguished service to humanity,
- Honorary Degree: HC, Université du Québec à Montréal(2007)
- Honorary Degree: DCom, by the University of Pretoria, South Africa (2008)
- Honorary Fellowship of the Open University of Israel (2008) in recognition of her commitment to broadening access of the community to Higher Education.
- Honorary Fellowship of the Commonwealth of Learning (2008)
- Award of Individual Prize of Excellence by the International Council for Open and Distance Education (2008)
- Symon’s Medal awarded by the Association of Commonwealth Universities for contribution to Higher Education in the Commonwealth (2008)
- Honorary Degree: HC, by the Open University in the Netherlands (2009)
- Fellowship of the City and Guilds of London Institute for services to Higher Education (2009)
- Award: International Public Servant of the Year Award made by Women in Public Life Initiative and Overall Outstanding Achiever of the Year Award made by same body (2009) in the United Kingdom.
- Honorary Degree: HC: by The Open University of Catalonia, Spain (2011)
- Honorary Degree: D.Phil, University of South Africa (2011) D.Phil - in recognition of her contributions to Distance and Open Education
- Fellowship of The Open University (2011)
- Honorary Degree: D.Phil, University of Gloucestershire (2011)
- UKZN Scholarship Awards,http://www.ukzn.ac.za/docs/general-docs/list-of-students-awarded.pdf?sfvrsn=0
- Honorary Fellow of COL citation,http://www.col.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/pcf5_brenda_gourley_citation.pdf
- Open Learning at the Open University,http://www.open.edu/openlearn/
- New technologies: new possibilities for reaching the unreached,http://www.col.org/resources/speeches/2008presentations/Pages/2008-07-15a.aspx
- The Talloires Network, http://talloiresnetwork.tufts.edu/list-of-participants/
- Honoris Causa, University of Catalonia, Barcelona,http://www.uoc.edu/hc/gourley/eng/trajectoria.html
- [ University of Brighton, http://www.brighton.ac.uk/aboutus/corporateinfo/governors.php]
- [AdvTech Group, http://www.advtech.co.za/about/board-of-directors]
- IADP Board of Trustees, www.iadpnet.org/board-of-trustees
- City and Guilds of London,http://www.cityandguilds.com/About-Us/How-We-Are-Organised/The-Council
- Royal Anniversary Trustees,http://www.royalanniversarytrust.org.uk/news/appointment-of-trustees
- Global Business Network,http://gbn.com/people/personlist.php?tag=management
- [Honorary Graduates of the University of Nottingham, http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/registrar/documents/hon-deg-list-dec12.pdf]
- [Honorary Degree Recipients Richmond University, http://www.richmond.ac.uk/content/admissions/about-richmond/honorary-degree-recipients.aspx]
- [University of Abertay, Alumni, http://www.abertay.ac.uk/alumni/honours/graduates/2004/]
- [University of Quebec, Montreal,Canada, http://www.uqam.ca/nouvelles/2007/07-380.htm]
- University of Pretoria Honorary Doctorates, http://web.up.ac.za/default.asp?ipkCategoryID=8384
- Women in Public Life Award, http://www.womeninpubliclifeawards.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=1:past-winners-2009&Itemid=9&layout=default
- [Open University of Catalonia, UOC, http://www.uoc.edu/portal/en/sala-de-premsa/actualitat/noticies/2011/noticia_029.html]
- UNISA, http://www.unisa.ac.za/media/PDFflips/VC_AnnualReview_2011/files/vc_annualreview_2011.pdf
- University of Gloucestershire, http://www.glos.ac.uk/latestnews/archive/prFrom2011/november11/Pages/Studentscelebrategraduationsuccess.aspx