Professor Louise Richardson, currently Principal of St Andrews, will be the first woman to hold the post in its 800-year history.
Oxford University is set to have its first woman vice-chancellor since the post was created nearly eight hundred years ago.
Professor Louise Richardson, currently the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, has been nominated to succeed Professor Andrew Hamilton as vice-chancellor of Oxford on 1 January, subject to the approval of Congregation, the University’s parliament.
Professor Richardson has led St Andrews for more than six years, combining strong institutional advancement with a distinguished academic career in the study of terrorism and security issues.
Professor Richardson said of her nomination: ‘Oxford is one of the world’s great universities. I feel enormously privileged to be given the opportunity to lead this remarkable institution during an exciting time for higher education. 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 is an internationally renowned scholar of terrorism and security studies, on which she has advised policy makers and others internationally. Her publications include the ground-breaking study: What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat.
Born in the Republic of Ireland in 1958, the second of seven siblings, Professor Richardson holds a BA in history from Trinity College, Dublin, an MA in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and an MA and PhD in government from Harvard.
On the news of her Oxford nomination, she told the Guardian newspaper: ‘My parents did not go to college, most of my siblings did not go to college. The trajectory of my life has been made possible by education. So I am utterly committed to others having the same opportunity I have had.’
Prior to joining St Andrews in 2009, Professor Richardson lived and worked in the United States where she was Executive Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
Whilst at Harvard she received several honours for the quality of her teaching, including the Joseph R Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize, bestowed by Harvard’s undergraduate body in recognition of exceptional teaching.
Oxford’s nominating committee was chaired by the Chancellor, Lord Patten, who said: ‘The panel was deeply impressed by Professor Richardson’s strong commitment to the educational 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.’
Current Vice-Chancellor Professor Hamilton said: ‘I am delighted by the nomination of Louise Richardson and wish her every success in leading this great university. 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.’ Professor Hamilton is leaving to become president of New York University, as reported in Oxford Today in March.
Professor Richardson’s leadership of St Andrews has been marked by a strong focus on academic mission, student experience and development of the university’s infrastructure.
The Senior Governor of the University Court of St Andrews, Sir Ewan Brown, said: ‘Louise Richardson has proved a splendid leader of St Andrews, to which she has made an outstanding contribution over the last seven years. I believe her experience here will stand her in good stead in her exciting new role in Oxford and she will leave at the end of this year with our very best wishes.’
The original article on Oxford University’s News & Events page is reproduced here (in edited form) with kind permission. Photograph of Professor Richardson courtesy of the University of St Andrews.