Professor Louise Richardson, an expert on international security and terrorist movements, is the first woman in Oxford University’s nearly 800-year history to be appointed as its leader.

Richardson is currently the president and vice-chancellor of St. Andrews University, before which she served as executive dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. In an interview with The Guardian about her nomination, Richardson said:

“I look forward to the day when a woman being appointed isn’t in itself news. Unfortunately, academia like most professions is pyramid-shaped—the higher up you go the fewer women there are.”

One of her first stated priorities as vice-chancellor will be to admit a higher percentage of lower-income students; The Guardian notes that more than 40% of Oxford students attended private schools, and only 45% of undergraduates are women. Richardson explained:

“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.”

Check out the rest of this impressive human’s biography here.


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