Colin Lucas

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Sir Colin R. Lucas
Vice-Chancellor of the
University of Oxford
In office
Preceded by Peter North
Succeeded by John Hood
Personal details
Born (1940-08-25) 25 August 1940 (age 74)
Alma mater Lincoln College, Oxford
Profession Historian

Sir Colin Renshaw Lucas (born 25 August 1940)[1] is a historian and university administrator. From 1997 to 2004, he was the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University.[2] In May 2006, he was appointed Chair of the Board of the British Library for a four-year term ending 2010.


Colin Lucas studied at Lincoln College, Oxford. After graduation, he took a post as a Lecturer at the University of Sheffield (1965–69), and then later at the University of Manchester (1970–73). He became a Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Balliol College in 1973. In 1990, he took a post at the University of Chicago as Professor of History, where he became chair of the History Department in 1992 and Dean of the Division of Social Sciences in 1993. He returned to Oxford in 1994 to become Master of Balliol College (1994–2000). In 2002, he was appointed Knight Bachelor for his services to higher education.

Sir Colin Lucas was the first Oxford Vice-Chancellor to serve for seven years (1997–2004, during which time he implemented many changes in the University governance structure, such as the adoption of external members to the University's Council, a radical restructuring of the committee system, divisionalism of academic departments, the establishment of a University Committee on Access and the adoption of new resource allocation and financial management systems.[3]

On his retirement as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Lucas was appointed Warden of Rhodes House, Oxford, responsible for the running of the Rhodes Scholarships (2004-2009). He had previously served as a Trustee of the Rhodes Trust.[4]

Lucas specializes in the history of 18th century France, especially the French Revolution. His academic publications include The Structure of the Terror (1973) and Beyond the Terror (with Gwynne Lewis, 1983), as well as numerous essays and articles.

Sir Colin Lucas was knighted in 2002.[1] He has been a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS) since 1973. He was awarded an Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France) in 1990, Chevalier Ordre du Mérite in 1994, and Légion d'Honneur in 1998 (Officier in 2005). In 2013, he was awarded a Doctor honoris causa by Heidelberg University.

Lucas is the godfather of Mayor of London Boris Johnson.[5]

Portraits of Sir Colin Lucas hang at Balliol College[6] and at Rhodes House, Oxford (the latter by Bob Tulloch).[7]

List of positions held[edit]


Academic offices
Preceded by
Baruch Samuel Blumberg
Master of Balliol College, Oxford
Succeeded by
Andrew Winston Mawdsley Graham
Preceded by
Sir Peter North
Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University
Succeeded by
John Hood
Preceded by
Dr John Rowett
Warden of Rhodes House, Oxford
Succeeded by
Donald Markwell