Louise Richardson

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Louise Richardson FRSE
Louise Richardson.jpg
Louise Richardson in 2008
Principal and Vice-Chancellor of
the University of St Andrews
In office
2009 – Present
Preceded by Brian Lang
Personal details
Born (1958-06-08) 8 June 1958 (age 56)
Tramore, County Waterford, Ireland
Alma mater Trinity College, Dublin; University of California, Los Angeles;
Harvard University
Profession Political scientist
Religion Roman Catholic
Website http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/principal/

Louise Richardson FRSE (born 8 June 1958,[1] Tramore, County Waterford) is a political scientist whose specialist field is the study of terrorism. Currently the Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, she was formerly employed at Harvard University where she served as executive dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.


After attending St Angela's Secondary School, Ursuline Convent, Waterford, Richardson studied at Trinity College, Dublin where she received a BA and MA in History. In her final year at Trinity she received a Rotary Scholarship to study in the USA, an event she credits as changing her life. She also holds an MA degree from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), and an MA (1984) and PhD (1989) from Harvard University. She was awarded the Sumner Prize for the best doctoral dissertation "dealing with any means or measures tending towards the prevention of war and the establishment of universal peace."[citation needed]


From 1981 to 2001 Richardson served as an assistant professor and then an associate professor in the Harvard Government Department, teaching courses on international relations – especially in areas of terrorism, international security and American and comparative foreign policy. During this period she also served for eight years as Head Tutor and Chair of the Board of Tutors (Director of Undergraduate Studies) in the Government Department. She served in numerous other administrative capacities at Harvard University, including the Faculty Council and various committees concerned with undergraduate education, the status of women, and human rights. In July 2001, she was appointed executive dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

Richardson's academic focus has been on international security with an emphasis on terrorist movements. She taught Harvard’s large undergraduate lecture course, Terrorist Movements in International Relations, for which she won the Levenson Prize, awarded by the undergraduate student body to the best teachers at the University. This class, along with a number of graduate courses on terrorist movements and European terrorism, were for many years the only courses offered on the subject at Harvard. In addition to the Levenson Prize, Professor Richardson has received teaching awards from the American Political Science Association and Pi Sigma Alpha for outstanding teaching in political science; the Abramson Award in recognition of her ‘excellence and sensitivity in teaching undergraduates’ and many awards from the Bok Center for Teaching Excellence. After her 2001 Radcliffe appointment, she continued to teach, both at Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

In 2009, Richardson was appointed Principal of the University of St Andrews, succeeding Brian Lang. Her installation took place on 25 March 2009.[2] She is the first woman, as well as the first Roman Catholic in modern times, to occupy the position.[3] She was appointed Professor of International Relations at St Andrews in November 2010.[4]

Academic work[edit]

Richardson is the author of What Terrorists Want, an account of terrorism written after the 9/11 attacks. Other publications include When Allies Differ: Anglo-American Relations in the Suez and Falkland Crises, The Roots of Terrorism (ed) and Democracy and Counterterrorism: Lessons from the Past (co-edited with Robert Art). She has also published many journal articles, book chapters, and reviews on the subject of terrorism.

Over the past decade, in addition to her teaching and management roles, Richardson has given over 300 talks and lectures on terrorism and counter-terrorism to educational and private groups as well as policy makers, the military, intelligence, and business communities. She has testified before the United States Senate and has appeared on CNN, the BBC, PBS, NPR, Fox and a host of other broadcast outlets. Her work has been featured in numerous international periodicals.

Richardson was elected to the fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2010.

Published works[edit]

  • What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat (2006)
  • The Roots of Terrorism, Routledge, New York (2006) ed
  • When Allies Differ: Anglo-American Relations in the Suez and Falkland Crises (1996)
  • Democracy and Counterterrorism: Lessons from the Past, United States Institute of Peace, Washington DC (2007) ed with Robert Art


  1. ^ "Birthday's today". The Telegraph. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2014. Dr Louise Richardson, Principal and Vice–Chancellor, University of St Andrews, 53 
  2. ^ http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/principal/Installation/ Installation of Principal and Vice-Chancellor
  3. ^ http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/28/world/europe/28richardson.html In Scotland, New Leadership Crumbles Old Barrier
  4. ^ http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/administration/principalsoffice/principal/

External links and further reading[edit]