Louise Richardson to leave Oxford for Carnegie Corporation

Vice-chancellor to take over as president of New York philanthropic fund at the start of 2023

November 18, 2021
Dame Louise Richardson

Louise Richardson is to step down as vice-chancellor of the University of Oxford to become the next president of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Professor Richardson will leave Oxford at the end of December 2022, having served her seven-year term. She will take up her new role with the US-based philanthropic organisation in January 2023.

Professor Richardson, previously principal of the University of St Andrews, had earlier signalled that she was likely to return to the US, where her husband and one of their daughters lives. The family used to meet up every month but have been unable to do so during the Covid-19 pandemic. “It has been a bit miserable to be so isolated,” she told the Financial Times earlier this week.

But the pandemic also presented Oxford’s most significant achievements during Professor Richardson’s tenure: the development of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, credited with saving huge numbers of lives worldwide, as well as the Recovery trial of potential coronavirus treatments.

Oxford’s first female vice-chancellor and an expert in terrorism and security studies, Professor Richardson oversaw efforts to improve diversity among the university’s student body and also spearheaded the “One Oxford” agenda to support closer collaboration between the central offices and the 39 colleges.

She also proved unafraid of speaking frankly on controversial topics, using appearances at the Times Higher Education World Academic Summit series to warn that “mendacious media and tawdry politicians” were determined to undermine British universities, to defend vice-chancellors’ salaries, to say that she was “embarrassed” that Oxford had educated Cabinet minister Michael Gove, and to call for higher education institutions to allow greater “ideological diversity” and controversial debate or risk “losing the public argument” over whether they are out of touch with society.

“My time at Oxford has been the most exhilarating, challenging and rewarding period in my career, and there remains so much more to be done together in the year ahead,” Professor Richardson said in announcing her departure. “At Carnegie I will be leading a foundation dedicated to my twin passions of education and peace, but Oxford – and my remarkable colleagues here – will never be far from my thoughts.”

Oxford said that the process of choosing a successor to Professor Richardson was “already well-advanced”, with a nomination committee led by the chancellor, Lord Patten of Barnes, starting work in July.

“I know Louise will serve Oxford in her last year in office with the same passion, strong leadership and unending energy which has delivered so much for the university. When Louise finally leaves, she will depart with our very best wishes and deepest thanks,” Lord Patten said.

Before leading St Andrews for six years, Professor Richardson was executive dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.


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