LONDON (TIP): The oldest university in the English speaking world has got its first ever female head.
Professor Louise Richardson, currently the principal and vice-chancellor of the University of St Andrews, has been nominated as the next VC of the University of Oxford.
The first women’s colleges were founded in the 19th century and women became full members of the University in 1920.
Five all-male colleges – Brasenose, Jesus College, Wadham, Hertford and St Catherine’s – first admitted women in 1974.
St Hilda’s College which was originally for women only was the last of Oxford’s single sex colleges. All colleges have admitted both men and women since 2008.
Oxford currently has 11 female heads of house – the Rector of Exeter; the Principals of Lady Margaret Hall, Mansfield, St Hilda’s, St Hugh’s, and Somerville; the Provost of Oriel; the Master of Pembroke; the Warden of St Antony’s and the Presidents of St John’s and Wolfson.
Oxford has been the alma mater of the who’s who of the world.
Twenty-six British prime ministers have been educated at Oxford University. The list includes present PM David Cameron, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, Harold Wilson and Edward Heath.
Oxford has educated Indians since 1871. Since then, some of the most famous Indians, including two of India’s PMs – Indira Gandhi and Manmohan Singh have studied here.
Indians have also held academic posts here including former president of India, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen and India’s Chief Scientific Advisor and Bharat Ratna recipient Professor C N R Rao. Professor Richardson with a distinguished academic career in the study of terrorism and security issues has led St Andrews for more than six years. Prior to joining St Andrews in 2009, Professor Richardson lived and worked in the US where she was executive dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
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.”
Subject to the approval of Congregation, the University’s parliament, professor Richardson will succeed the current VC Professor Andrew Hamilton on Jan 1, 2016.
The first woman to be appointed to a full professorship was Agnes Headlam-Morley, who became Montague Burton professor of International Relations in October 1948.
In 1973 Balliol was the first of the traditional all-male colleges to elect a woman as a fellow and tutor. In 1993 Professor Marilyn Butler, former Rector of Exeter, became the first female head of a former all-male college at either Oxford or Cambridge.