Oxford names first female v-c

The University of Oxford is set for a female leader for the first time in its history, with Louise Richardson in line for the post.

May 28, 2015
University of Oxford campus

The University of Oxford is set for a female leader for the first time in its history, with Louise Richardson in line for the post.

The institution has nominated Professor Richardson, who is the principal and vice-chancellor of the University of St Andrews, to succeed the current vice-chancellor, Andrew Hamilton, at the start of 2016.

Her nomination must now be approved by Congregation, Oxford’s parliament of dons.

She said: “I feel enormously privileged to be given the opportunity to lead this remarkable institution during an exciting time for higher education.”

She added: “I am very much looking forward to working with talented, experienced and dedicated colleagues to advance Oxford’s pre-eminent global position in research, scholarship and teaching."

Professor Richardson hit the headlines last year during the run-up to the Scottish independence referendum when she spoke to The Times about the potential effects of cutting the university off from the UK research councils.

It was later reported that Alex Salmond, then first minister of Scotland, attempted to demand she issue a clarification and a statement praising the Scottish government.

Professor Richardson has led St Andrews for six years and was previously executive dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. In a message to staff and students at St Andrews she said that she had “mixed emotions” about leaving the institution, which had provided her with the “most rewarding and enjoyable” years of her professional life.

Lord Patten of Barnes, chancellor of Oxford and chair of the nominating committee, said that the panel had been “deeply impressed” by Professor Richardson's “strong commitment to the education and scholarly values which Oxford holds dear”.

“Her distinguished record both as an educational leader and as an outstanding scholar provides an excellent basis for her to lead Oxford in the coming years,” he added.

Professor Hamilton, who is to become president of New York University, said he was delighted by her nomination and wished her every success in the position. “The role of vice-chancellor is both challenging and rewarding and I look forward to making the transition as smooth and straightforward as possible in the coming months,” he said.   

St Andrews said that Professor Richardson has overseen “one of the most successful chapters in the 600-year history of the university” and the search for her successor would start immediately.

Professor Richardson, who was born in the Republic of Ireland, is a scholar in the field of terrorism and security studies.


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