Professor Louise Richardson, Oxford's 272nd Vice-Chancellor and the first woman in the post, made her inaugural speech at the Sheldonian. 

Louise Richardson
Professor Louise Richardson was today installed at a meeting of Congregation, the university's parliament, in the Sheldonian  
 
By Richard Lofthouse
 
The Chancellor, Lord Patten of Barnes, effusively welcomed his new Vice-Chancellor at her admission ceremony: 'You have an outstanding record as a teacher and scholar. I know you will wish to be judged primarily not by the glass ceilings you have smashed, but on your achievements.'
 
Lord Patten appeared to make a veiled reference to the Rhodes statue controversy, insisting that the one thing we cannot tolerate is intolerance. He reflected that 'because we value tolerance we have to listen to those who shout' but suggested it was a sign of 'intellectual pusillanimity' to listen too long before saying what we think.  Lord Patten ended his speech with a stark warning of the danger of allowing the University to become a 'drab suburb of the soul' in which the only diet was 'intellectual porridge.'

Louise Richardson
Professor Richardson leaving the Sheldonian with Chancellor Lord Patten of Barnes
 
After the formal elements of the ceremony were completed, and music sung by the choir of The Queen's College, Professor Richardson delivered her inaugural address. Professor Richardson is a renowned scholar on the subject of terrorism and security, and the former Principal of St Andrews. After thanking her predecessors, she defended the enduring value of higher education and criticised the current political tendency to impose more and more bureaucracy on the sector. She spoke of the 'increasing cost of compliance with ever more bureaucratic, ever more intrusive, and ever less useful regulation.'
Louise Richardson
The new Vice-Chancellor joined Oxford after being Principal at the University of St Andrews
 
She also appeared to address the Rhodes statue issue, stressing that universities must ensure freedom of debate amongst their student communities. She asked the Congregation (the University's parliament): 'How do we ensure that they appreciate the value of engaging with ideas that they find objectionable, trying through reason to change another's mind, while always being open to changing their own?'

Professor Richardson also addressed the desirability of more diversity in the University's composition, noting that 'the best may not be those who look and sound like ourselves.' 
 
Images: Oxford University Images

Comments

By Russell Smith
on

Professor Richardson is standing for what we all know to be right - the ultimate freedom of HE to stand apart from, and to criticise, the State without interference from the State. Bueaucratic oversight is still an attempt at regulation and control. The policy we must adopt in respect to this is zero-tolerance; to fight back at the first minor attempts with full force.

By José Pérez-Toro
on

As a Colombian University Professor, and Linacre 1975 Alumni, I feel extreamly happy with her nomination and interest to defended the enduring value of higher education.

By Julian Roach
on

Anyone with any sense must wish the new Vice Chancellor well and will applaud the ideas she has expressed. I'm sure that she meant to say 'the best may not be those who look and sound like us' and that the solecism just slipped out in the stress of the moment.

By John Temple
on

Bravo Professor Richardson! Welcome to Oxford.
What a monumental task you have taken upon yourself. Good luck and God bless you.

By George Leddick,PhD
on

Good to hear our colleagues at Oxford have discovered women. You will also be delighted to notice the wheel. And fire is also good, but watch your fingers.

By Vickie Tarrant
on

It is shocking to see that C21st UK is still obsessed with the man / woman aspect of an appointment. We hope the new VC's views on free debate of all ideas will echo around the whole country. On a completely separate issue: Julian Roach has the dubious honour of having posted the most inelegant comment so far. The purpose of language is communication and we must agree that the VC's comments could not be clearer?

By Robert Matthews...
on

Prof Richardson's appointment strikes me as a rare ray of hope in a milieu increasingly dominated by the dreary, dogmatic and shrill.

I do hope she succeeds in making Oxford a safe haven for those with that least trendy of traits: reasonableness.

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