Born in May 1957, Souter obtained a Bachelor of Arts degrees in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford between 1975 - 1978, and a Master of Arts in Victorian Studies from the University of London between 1981 - 1982. By 2016, her career had spanned "over 30 years of policy development and operational management in the public sector", including work in the civil service in the Department of Health, the Department of Social Security and the Cabinet Office.
Her other board appointments have included the boards of Creativity, Culture and Education, the Kent Wildlife Trust, and the National Communities Resource Centre (at Trafford Hall). She is also a member of the Academy of Urbanism, a trustee of Horniman Museum and Gardens, and a lay canon of Salisbury Cathedral.
In May 2016, it was announced that the Fellows of St Cross College, Oxford, had elected Souter as the next Master of the College. In September 2016, she succeeded Sir Mark Jones, who had been Master of St Cross since 2011.
In June 2020, it was announced by the Governing Body of Oriel College, Oxford, UK, that Souter would chair an 'Independent Commission of Inquiry' into the intended removal of the Cecil Rhodes statue and plaque at Oriel College, as well as related matters such as "how to improve access and attendance of BAME undergraduate, graduate students and faculty". This inquiry arose in response to immense pressure from the Rhodes Must Fall movement in Oxford, and from the wider Black Lives Matter movement. The Commission was due to report by the end of 2020 but the report was delayed a couple of times. The final report for the commission set up to examine the figure's future said the "majority" of its members supported its removal but Oriel College said it would not seek to move the statue due to costs and "complex" planning processes.
Awards and honours
Souter was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours list for services to conservation. In 2014, she was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. Souter is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). She was made an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford in 2011.
Souter is married with two children.
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