Oxford University Nominates First Female Vice-Chancellor
Bringing to an end 785 years of male academic leadership, Oxford University has nominated its first ever female vice-chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson, a political scientist.
Currently the principal and vice-chancellor of the University of St Andrews, Professor Louise Richardson, will become the 272nd vice-chancellor of Oxford when she takes up the role in January. She will replace Professor Andrew Hamilton, who is leaving before the end of his allocated seven-year term to become president of New York University.
Professor Richardson spent two decades working at Harvard, is a renowned terrorism expert who was brought up in the south of Ireland and approached as a potential recruit by the political wing of the IRA while a student. Before moving to her post in Scotland, she became executive dean of the university’s prestigious professional development institute.
Professor Richardson, having taken her undergraduate degree in History at Trinity College Dublin, was the first in her family to go to university, emphasised her belief in education as a means of furthering equality and social mobility.
She will arrive in Oxford at a time of increasing financial uncertainty for universities. The government is likely to impose significant cuts on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills — which funds science and research — and at the same time, the costs to institutions of delivering undergraduate degrees are rising.
Professor Richardson said she relished engaging with donors as a way of keeping academic institutions focused and honest by not regarding fundraising a chore.
The panel had been “deeply impressed” by Professor Richardson’s “strong commitment to the educational and scholarly values which Oxford holds dear” said Oxford University’s chancellor, Lord Patten announcing the appointment.
Professor Richardson — who holds an MA in political science from the University of California and a PhD in government from Harvard University — rose to prominence for her post-9/11 book, What Terrorists Want.