Rick Trainor

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Sir Richard Trainor
Principal of King's College London
Term 2004 – present
Predecessor Arthur Lucas
Born 1948
United States of America
Alma mater Brown University
Princeton University
Merton College, Oxford
Nuffield College, Oxford
Profession Historian and academic administrator
Spouse Marguerite Dupree
Children Richard and Meg Trainor

Sir Richard Hughes "Rick" Trainor KBE, FRHS, FKC (born 31 December 1948), is an academic administrator and historian who has served as the Principal of King's College London since 2004. He was previously the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Greenwich from 2000 to 2004.

Trainor was born in the United States. He was awarded an honorary knighthood (KBE) in June 2010 for services to higher education in the United Kingdom. The award was honorary because of his American nationality, but on 31 December 2010 the knighthood was made substantive by Queen Elizabeth II following his assumption of British nationality.[1]


Trainor was educated at Calvert Hall College High School in Towson, Maryland, in the United States. He graduated from Brown University with a BA summa cum laude in American Civilization. He subsequently earned MAs from Princeton University and from Merton College, Oxford, before completing his D.Phil. in 1981 at Nuffield College, Oxford, entitled "Authority and social structure in an industrialized area: A study of three Black Country towns, 1840-1890". He is a former Rhodes Scholar.

He is a member of the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences, Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a member of the Athenaeum Club. He is also an Honorary Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and Trinity College of Music, and a member of the Anglo-American Fulbright Commission.

He is married to Marguerite Dupree, an academic historian of medicine currently at Glasgow University. They have two children.


Trainor was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Greenwich (2000–2004). Prior to this appointment, he was Senior Vice-Principal of the University of Glasgow.

In 2004 Trainor became Principal of King's College London, where he is also Professor of Social History. In 2009 the title of President of King’s was added.

Between 2007 and 2009 Rick served as President of Universities UK (UUK),[2] the organisation that represents the heads of all UK Universities. In this role he engaged with the new Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills and latterly, successor Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, on a wide range of issues including autonomy, funding, research, standards and immigration.

He served on the Confederation of British Industries’ Higher Education Task Force from 2008-2009.[3]

Since becoming Principal of King’s in 2004, Trainor has overseen the promotion of the College from 96th to 19th place in the QS World University Rankings (2013), making it the 6th ranked UK university.[4]

In 2010 King’s was named UK Sunday Times University of the Year.[5]

Trainor oversaw the College’s role in the creation of King’s Health Partners in 2009, an academic health science centre, in which King’s College London collaborates with Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospitals, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts.[6]

During Trainor’s tenure, in 2009 King’s acquired the East Wing of Somerset House,[7] after 180 years of intermittent negotiations between King’s and Somerset House Trust. Somerset House East Wing was opened by Her Majesty The Queen in February 2012.[8]

Under Trainor’s leadership, the College has launched King’s Cultural Institute, enhancing ties to a number of nearby national cultural institutions.[9]

Trainor received the Annual Leadership Award of the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education in June 2011 for his role in the College’s fundraising and for alumni relations.[10]

Trainor has overseen the establishment of a number of Global Institutes - the Brazil Institute,[11] the Russia Institute,[12] the India Institute[13] and the China Institute[14] - at the College as part of greater focus on internationalisation at King's. These centres of research and study aim to focus on contemporary developments in fast-changing parts of the world.

In March 2012 Trainor was invited to join the IPPR Commission on the Future of Higher Education. In May 2012 HEFCE announced it was to undertake a Review of Philanthropic Support for Higher Education throughout the UK and Trainor will sit on the review board.[15]

In June 2013, Exeter College, Oxford announced that Trainor had been appointed as Rector, to succeed Frances Cairncross. Trainor will take office on 1 October 2014.[16]

Restructuring at King's College London[edit]

In response to actual and further anticipated cuts in public sector funding in 2009/2010, Richard Trainor introduced plans for 'financial and academic sustainability' and 'strategic disinvestment' at King's College London which provoked letters of protest by prominent scholars both in the UK and abroad.[17][18][19][20]

The University and College Union (UCU) and the British Medical Association (BMA) voiced their concerns about the restructuring at King’s College London.[21] The situation at King's has attracted national press coverage.[22][23][24][25][26]

Trainor has responded by highlighting the pressures facing UK Universities and giving an interview to The Times about the challenges of funding cuts[27] and his belief that further higher education funding cuts would risk serious damage to the sector.[28][29] The King's College London UCU executive committee have commented on Richard Trainor's responses [30]

Further, his decision to close the Division of Engineering in 2009, one of the oldest departments in the world[citation needed] was criticised for risking charges of "reckless academic vandalism".[31]

His choice of cuts were the subject of a House of Commons Early Day Motion in March 2010: "That this House notes the proposal by the Executive of King's College London as part of its budget review process to abolish the Chair of Palaeography, the only one of its kind in the United Kingdom; further notes the fundamental importance of palaeography to a broad and interdisciplinary scholarly community; considers that without the development of palaeographic skills, millions of documents would be rendered inaccessible, thus depriving the nation of its full historical legacy; and therefore urges King's College London to consider very carefully any proposals in respect to this prestigious and important Chair."[32]

In January 2012, King’s announced the appointment of Julia Crick as Professor of Palaeography and Manuscript Studies in the School of Arts & Humanities.[33]

Published works[edit]

  • Black Country élites: the exercise of authority in an industrialized area, 1830-1900. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993.
  • Urban governance: Britain and beyond since 1750, edited by Robert J. Morris and Richard H. Trainor. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000.
  • University, city and state: the University of Glasgow since 1870, by Michael Moss, J. Forbes Munro and Richard H. Trainor. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press for the University of Glasgow, 2000.


External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Arthur Lucas
Principal of King's College London
Succeeded by