Celedonio Ramírez Ramírez is a pioneering leader in Latin American distance education who has influenced the acceptance and development of distance education for adults throughout the region. As an innovator and a visionary in the field of distance education for adults, he fervently believes in the transformative power of adult education. He played an important role in the launching and consolidation of his institution, Universidad Estatal a Distancia (UNED). Founding a distance teaching institution in a country such as Costa Rica was no easy task in 1977; without precedents, in many ways, it required an act of faith. Ramírez and the founding team of UNED were obliged to innovate and create linkages with other organizations throughout the world. The main motivation for this substantial effort was to provide access to educational opportunities for many adults who otherwise would have been excluded, an aspiration consistent with the long-established democratic traditions of Costa Rica.
Ramírez earned his PhD (1969) in philosophy from Georgetown University and his MA and BA degrees from Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He continued studies in theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, and engaged in postdoctoral studies in philosophy at Catholic University of America.
He has worked in leadership roles at UNED since its founding in 1977, one of only two stand-alone distance teaching universities in Latin America. From 1986 to 1999, he served as rector, leading UNED through significant changes in technology and outreach. He continues to serve UNED as a tutor and researcher and as lecturer and general adviser. During his tenure as rector, he also served as vice president of the Ibero-American Association of Higher Education at a Distance (AIESAD) at the Open University of Spain. In 1993, he became a charter member of the board of directors for CREAD, the Inter-American distance education network. He served as CREAD’s vice president for Central America from 1993 to 1996 and as president from 1996 to 2000. Through his leadership in AIESAD and CREAD, he was instrumental in building a professional community among distance educators in Latin America and North America.
In addition to being a leading distance education administrator in his own country, Ramírez has maintained an active scholarly role. He has organized or served as a key speaker at international conferences on distance education in Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, and Venezuela. In addition, he has written or edited many publications, including the two-volume The Third Educational Revolution in Costa Rica.
Ramírez began his career as a professor of philosophy at universities in the United States and Costa Rica. Throughout his career, he has continued to publish scholarly works on philosophy, in both English and Spanish-language journals. He also has published textbooks on philosophy, and his contributions to the study of philosophy span 40 years of academic research and writing.Ramírez’s greatest contribution has been to demonstrate that it is possible to establish an efficient and socially conscious distance education institution in a small developing country. This was particularly important 30 years ago, when this educational modality was in its infancy. In writing and presentations he has emphasized the need to serve educationally underserved adults, a message with great resonance in many developing societies.
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