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Irish academic to be the first woman to lead the University of Oxford

28 May 2015 Latest News Local News News

Tramore-born academic Prof Louise Richardson is set to become the first woman to lead the University of Oxford. The university, which is the oldest in the English speaking world as well as one of the highest ranked, announced that the Irish political scientist, currently based at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, has been nominated as the next Vice-Chancellor – a job equal to CEO. The role has one of the largest salaries in higher education in the UK with a pay package of £434,000 in 2013.

In a statement, Prof 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.”

Prof Richardson grew up in Tramore, and studied history at Trinity College Dublin, one of only three Catholics studying the course at that time.

Speaking to the Irish Times, she said: “I became fascinated by how two sets of well-meaning people occupying this small island can have diametrically-opposed interpretations of the same events.”

A prominent academic in the field of terrorism and security issues, she has worked at Harvard University in the US, before becoming the principal and vice-chancellor at St Andrews in 2009. Prof 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 University.

The nominating committee was chaired by the Chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Patten of Barnes, 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.” Subject to the approval of university’s “congregation”, or parliament, Prof Richardson will succeed the current Vice-Chancellor, Professor Andrew Hamilton, next January.

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