2/11/24 · Institutional

Gabriel Ferraté, founding rector of the UOC, has died

Gabriel Ferraté, rector of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC) from 1972 to 1994 and founding rector of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) from 1995 to 2005, has died at the age of 91
Gabriel Ferraté (1932-2024)

Gabriel Ferraté i Pascual (1932-2024)

One of the great achievements of this Reus-born industrial engineer was to conceive and create the UOC, at the request of the Government of Catalonia, in 1994. Ferraté accepted the challenge on the condition that the Government would "trust him" and let him create "a university that was different". And he succeeded. Ferraté set out to "break down the barriers of space and time through new technologies" at a time when "the public internet, the internet of the people, and the world wide web didn't yet exist," as he himself explained in this interview. Almost 30 years have passed since those uncertain beginnings, the same 30 years whose anniversary will be celebrated by the world's first online university next October.


Who was Gabriel Ferraté i Pascual?

Gabriel Ferraté i Pascual (Reus, Baix Camp, 1932) was an industrial engineer and agricultural expert. His professional, scientific and research activity focused on the fields of computer science, automation and robotics.

From 1968 he was Professor of Automation at the Barcelona School of Industrial Engineering (ETSEIB), and he was director of the school from 1969 to 1972. From 1972 to 1994 he was rector of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, with a break from 1976 to 1978, when he was appointed Director-General for Universities and Research and, later, Director-General for Science Policy of the Catalan Ministry of Education. In 1995 he founded the UOC and was named its rector, a position he held until 2005.

He was a member of the Executive Committee of the International Federation of Automatic Control (IFAC), director of the Institut de Cibernètica, and vice-chairman of the Inter-ministerial Council for Research and Technological Innovation (CIRIT). He was also chairman of the Cerdà Institute and member of the Institute of Catalan Studies, the Academy of Medical Sciences of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona and the Reus Reading Centre.

He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid and the University of Lleida. In 1996 he was awarded the Creu de Sant Jordi (St George’s Cross), and in 2017 the UOC awarded him the Medal of Honour, the university's highest distinction.

Many will remember him as the wise visionary who founded the world's first online university.


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