Professor Louise Richardson has spoken of her vision for Oxford's future as she becomes Vice-Chancellor of the University. She expressed the aim of keeping Oxford in the forefront of international education with 'ever more creativity, ever more innovation, ever more flexibility'.
Professor Richardson has taken up her new post ahead of her formal installation as the 272nd Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford on 12 January. She joins Oxford from the University of St Andrews, where she was Principal and Vice-Chancellor for seven years.
Professor Richardson said: 'I feel incredibly privileged to be taking on the leadership of this extraordinary institution. Oxford has been at the forefront of higher education for 800 years, transforming lives through the quality of its teaching and generating world-changing new ideas through the quality of its research. I want to bring all my energy and commitment to maintaining those high standards, working with the remarkably talented colleagues and students that we have at Oxford.'
Professor Richardson is the first woman to hold the post of Vice-Chancellor. She will be formally admitted to office on Tuesday 12 January at a ceremony in the Sheldonian Theatre, where she will address Congregation, the University’s parliament.
The Chancellor of Oxford University, Lord Patten of Barnes, said: 'We are delighted to welcome Professor Richardson to the Vice-Chancellorship of one of the greatest universities in the world. She has an outstanding reputation on both sides of the Atlantic as a scholar and academic leader. The Oxford community – students, teachers, researchers, alumni and benefactors – looks forward to working with her to ensure that Oxford retains its position as a world-class university, serving the whole of the world, and standing firmly for its timeless values of meritocratic distinction and academic autonomy.'
Professor Richardson describes her career as having been 'committed to the well-being of universities'. Born in Co Waterford in the Republic of Ireland, she read History at Trinity College, Dublin. She holds an MA in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and an MA and PhD in Government from Harvard University.
Prior to joining St Andrews in 2009, Professor Richardson was Executive Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. From 1989 to 2001 she served as Assistant and then Associate Professor in the Department of Government at Harvard, teaching courses on international relations with a focus on terrorism, international security and American and comparative foreign policy.
Whilst at Harvard she received several honours for the quality of her teaching, including the Joseph R Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize, awarded by undergraduates in recognition of exceptional teaching.
Harvard President Drew Faust said: 'Louise Richardson is a brilliant academic leader. I had the privilege of working closely with her for six years at Harvard and came to deeply admire her analytic acuity, her organizational insight, her energy, courage and determination, and her high standards and aspirations. I wish her well as she assumes the post of Vice-Chancellor today.'
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 (2006).
The new Vice-Chancellor said her top priority was to maintain Oxford’s position as a world leader for outstanding teaching and research. She added: 'We will need to move ever faster to keep that pre-eminent position. It will require ever more creativity, ever more innovation, ever more flexibility.'
At the same time, Professor Richardson is determined that access to Oxford's outstanding scholarship should be as wide as possible. She said: 'We want to ensure Oxford is a magnet for every young person, no matter where they are from, to come here and study. We want every talented, ambitious academic to aim to be at Oxford to teach and to conduct their research.'
The new Vice-Chancellor anticipates a packed first few months 'getting to know the University'. She plans to meet colleagues and students right across the University's colleges, divisions and departments. She said: 'Everyone I have met so far has been warm, welcoming and enthusiastic. I’m looking forward to it all tremendously.'