For Years, Professor Primrose Kurasha’s name was synonymous with excellence in the higher education system. She reconstructed history by becoming the first woman to hold the position of Vice Chancellor in Zimbabwe when Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) was founded in 2003.
Last Friday, news that she had passed on came as a shock to many who were expecting her continuous contribution to the higher education system.
Her profound influence at ZOU was beyond radical as noted from how she developed expertise at the university to thirty five professors and 155 PHD holders from one and five respectively at the time of her appointment. Under her leadership and guidance, ZOU won the International Star for Leadership in Quality Award (ISLQ) and the Open University of Tanzania Excellence Award. As Chairperson of Distance Education Association of Southern Africa she ensured that quality distance education became a reality in Zimbabwe and was accessible to many.
Proffesor Kurasha’s reservoir of knowledge was sought after around the world and she was invited to lecture in countries such as California and Germany. She served as Honorary Professor in Open and Distance Learning (ODL) at Tianjin Open University of China. She authored several publications mainly focusing on open and distance learning and management. She was also a consultant for organisations in financial, manufacturing and educational sectors. Her success was rooted in intelligence, determination and integrity.
At the time of her death, she sat on several boards in different organisations. She was a founding board member of the Scientific Industrial Research and Development Centre (SIRDC), President and founding trustee of Professional Women Executives and Businesswomen’s Forum (PROWEB) Chairperson of the Southern African Regional Universities Association (SARUA), President of the African Council for Distance Education (ACDE), Chairperson of the UNESCO-funded UNITWIN Project and board member of Baobab Reinsurance P/L among others. Her achievements, stood as evidence that, breaking social barriers and negative stereotypes that have for long hindered women from holding positions of power is possible and doing that opens up opportunities for women.
At 58, she had managed to have numerous accolades under her name. These included; Business Woman of the Year, 2015 Award; Top Vice Chancellor of the Year Award 2015, Outstanding Leadership in Higher and Tertiary Education Award 2015, Leadership for Quality Management Award 2015, Outstanding Woman in Higher and Tertiary Education 2014, Business woman of the year in 2008; the Sally Mugabe Award for Managerial Excellence (2005); the Empretec Woman Leader of the Year (2004); the Bridgeport Innovation Centre Fellowship award (1986) and the Van Leer Foundation Award (1979).
Professor Kurasha managed to live her purpose and her life is worth sharing with future generations. She set a pace for other women not only to walk her path but to also leave their foot prints for younger women too.
Her interpersonal and communication skills enabled her to build strong relationships with several institutions beyond our borders. She was a very professional woman whose character and essence were admired by many.
Professor Kurasha was a visionary, her life is worth emulating and the best we can do to honour her is by cultivating ourselves through hard work, courage and perseverance. She remains a role model to other women. She was purpose driven, passionate and a ground breaker who was fearless to pursue her dream of pioneering an institution of higher learning through distance education.
Main image taken from www.proweb-forum.com