Louise Richardson

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Louise Richardson

Louise Richardson.jpg
Louise Richardson in 2008
Vice-Chancellor of University of Oxford
Assumed office
1 January 2016
ChancellorThe Lord Patten of Barnes
Preceded byAndrew Hamilton
Principal and Vice-Chancellor of
the University of St Andrews
In office
6 January 2009 – 31 December 2015
Preceded byBrian Lang
Succeeded bySally Mapstone
Personal details
Louise Mary Richardson

(1958-06-08) 8 June 1958 (age 60)
Tramore, County Waterford, Ireland
Thomas Jevon (m. 1988)
Alma mater
ProfessionPolitical scientist

Louise Mary Richardson FRSE (born 8 June 1958[1][4]) is an Irish political scientist whose specialist field is the study of terrorism.[5] In January 2016 she became the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford,[6] having formerly served as the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, and as the executive dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.[7][8]

Early life and education[edit]

Richardson grew up in Tramore, one of seven children of Arthur and Julie Richardson.[1][9][10] After attending St Angela's Secondary School, Ursuline Convent, Waterford,[10] she studied at Trinity College, Dublin, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in History, promoted in the usual way to a Master of Arts degree in 1982.[1]

In 1977, she received a Rotary Scholarship to study at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She took an MA degree in Political Science from UCLA in 1981, followed by a move to Harvard where she received a Master of Arts degree in Government in 1984[citation needed] and a PhD in 1989 on International relations and International law, relating specifically the Falklands War and Suez Crisis.[1][3]


From 1989 to 2001 Richardson served as an assistant professor and then an associate professor in the Harvard Government Department.[11] 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 was denied tenure and went on to serve in numerous 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.[12] She is the first woman, as well as the first Roman Catholic in modern times, to occupy the position.[8] She was appointed Professor of International Relations at St Andrews in November 2010.[13]

On 28 May 2015, the University of Oxford announced that Professor Richardson had been nominated as the next Vice-Chancellor, subject to approval, to take up the post on 1 January 2016.[9] The nomination was approved on 25 June 2015,[14] and Richardson became Vice-Chancellor in January 2016.[7] She is also an Honorary Fellow at Kellogg College, Oxford.[15]

In September 2017, Richardson attracted some criticism from students,[16][17] academics,[18] politicians, and the British press[19][18] for remarks made in defence of academic freedom that were interpreted by critics as a defence of academics holding anti-gay views towards students.[20][18][21]

In October 2017, Richardson claimed that Oxford University was in need of reform, stating that the current system gives rise to "a waste of resources" and a "duplication of bureaucracy".[22] She joins past Vice Chancellors such as John Hood in attempting to centralise the Oxford college system, although she also supports college autonomy. At her annual Oration, she stated, "We all know that change occurs slowly at Oxford…but the world is changing rapidly around us, and I believe that if we stand still we will enter a period of slow but definite decline." [22]

In late February 2018, the University of Oxford’s support for cuts to the national lecturers’ pension scheme triggered a 14-day strike.[23] A resolution to revert the decision was spearheaded by six Oxford academics, including Dr. Karma Nabulsi and Prof. Robert Gildea.[24] On Tuesday, 6. March 2018, Richardson used a technicality to upend a debate on the plans.[25] At a meeting of Congregation, the governing body of Oxford, 20 members and supporters of Richardson stood up as the resolution was introduced, thereby blocking the debate.[25] Academics then held an unofficial vote outside, which delivered a result of 442 for and 2 against.[24] Richardson herself stated that she had been absent at the event due to having “scheduled a trip to New York”.[26] An initial offer on her part for a non-binding “town hall discussion” as a replacement for the debate was rejected.[23]

The following day, Richardson sent out an email to staff in which she stated that "In the light of the depth of feeling of so many colleagues, we will convene a special meeting of council today at noon” at which it would be recommended that the university’s council “reverse its response to the UUK survey in line with the congregation’s resolution”.[24][26]


Richardson is the author of What Terrorists Want, an account of terrorism written after the September 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.

Between 2001 and 2008, in addition to her teaching and management roles, Richardson gave 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.[27] 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.

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

Awards and honours[edit]

In 2009 she received the Trinity College Dublin Alumni Award.[28] In 2010 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE),[2] and in 2011 she was appointed to the Scottish Government's Council of Economic Advisers.[29] In 2012, ahead of the centenary in 2014 of the outbreak of World War One, she was appointed to the Scottish Commemorations Panel.[30] Harvard University awarded Professor Richardson The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal in 2013,[31] and later in the year she received an honorary doctorate from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO).[32] In 2015 Professor Richardson received honorary doctorates from the University of Aberdeen[33] and Queen's University Belfast.[34] and was named an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy. In 2016 Professor Richardson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[35] named a fellow of the National Academy of Social Sciences,[36] and awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of St Andrews;[37] she also received the inaugural Emily Winifred Dickson award from the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, which recognises women who have made an outstanding contribution to their field.[38]

She serves on the boards of a number of non-profit groups including the Central European University, the Carnegie Corporation[39] and the EastWest Institute (to October 2015).[40] She has served on the editorial boards of a number of journals and presses and been awarded numerous prizes including the Sumner Prize[41] for work towards the prevention of war and the establishment of universal peace. She has lectured on the subject of terrorism and counter-terrorism to public, professional, media and education groups across the world.

Personal life[edit]

Richardson married Thomas Jevon in 1988 and has three children.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f RICHARDSON, Prof. Louise Mary. ukwhoswho.com. Who's Who. 2016 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. closed access publication – behind paywall (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b Anon (2010). "Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh" (PDF). royalsoced.org.uk. Edinburgh: Royal Society of Edinburgh.
  3. ^ a b Richardson, Louise Mary (1988). Managing allies and being managed by alliances : Suez and the Falklands (PhD thesis). Harvard University. OCLC 23368823.
  4. ^ "Birthday's today". The Telegraph. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 1 June 2014. Dr Louise Richardson, Principal and Vice–Chancellor, University of St Andrews, 53
  5. ^ UCBerkeleyEvents, Conversations with History Video on What Terrorists Want on YouTube
  6. ^ "Vice-Chancellor | University of Oxford". www.ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
  7. ^ a b Adams, Richard. "Oxford vice-chancellor: 'Tackling elitism can be done. I mean, I went to a rural school in Ireland'". The Guardian. The Guardian. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
  8. ^ a b Bonner, Raymond (7 March 2009). "In Scotland, New Leadership Crumbles Old Barrier". New York Times. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Professor Louise Richardson nominated as next Vice-Chancellor". University of Oxford. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Honorary Fellow: Dr Louise Richardson". Waterford Institute of Technology; retrieved 28 May 2015.
  11. ^ "Vice-Chancellor | University of Oxford". Ox.ac.uk. 1 January 2016. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  12. ^ "Installation of Principal and Vice-Chancellor". St-andrews.ac.uk. 25 March 2009. Archived from the original on 30 May 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2015.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 May 2015. Retrieved 8 June 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ "Declaration of approval of the appointment of a new Vice-Chancellor". Oxford University Gazette. University of Oxford. 25 June 2015. p. 659. Retrieved 28 June 2015.
  15. ^ "Louise Richardson". Kellogg College. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
  16. ^ Lanagan, Roisin (5 September 2017). "oxford's lgbtq+ students respond to vice-chancellor's defence of homophobia". Vice Magazine.
  17. ^ Parker, Naomi (6 September 2017). "Richardson's comments are not just offensive – they're dangerous". Cherwell.
  18. ^ a b c Riley, Charlotte Lydia (5 September 2017). "Oxford head wants gay students to debate homophobic teachers". Dazed.
  19. ^ "Oxford University's vice-chancellor says comments were 'misconstrued'". BBC News. 6 September 2017.
  20. ^ Mintz, Luke; Turner, Camilla (5 September 2017). "Oxford student union offers emotional 'support' for those affected by vice-Chancellor's 'snowflake' comments". The Telegraph.
  21. ^ Thorpe, JR (7 September 2017). "The Vice-Chancellor Of Oxford Defended Homophobia, & That Shows How Misunderstood Safe Spaces Are". Bustle.
  22. ^ a b https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/10/10/oxford-universitys-college-system-need-reform-vice-chancellor
  23. ^ a b Adams, Richard (6 March 2018). "Oxford University blocks staff attempts to challenge pension cuts". The Guardian.
  24. ^ a b c Burns, Judith (7 March 2018). "Oxford U-turn in university pension cut dispute". Financial Times.
  25. ^ a b Bennett, Rosemary (7 March 2018). "Vice-chancellor Louise Richardson blocks Oxford bid to resolve lecturers' strike". The Times.
  26. ^ a b Dimbleby, Fred (7 March 2018). "Vice chancellor u-turns on UCU strike". Cherwell.
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 September 2015. Retrieved 10 December 2015.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  28. ^ "Trinity College Alumni Awards 2009" Archived 8 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Trinity College Dublin communications office, November 2009
  29. ^ "Council of Economic Advisers", Scottish Government, 4 November 2011
  30. ^ "About the Scottish Commemorations Panel | Mun Phannal Cuimhneachain Albannach", Scottish Commemorations Panel
  31. ^ "GSAS Awards 2013 Centennial Medal - The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences". Gsas.harvard.edu. 29 May 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  32. ^ "MGIMO bestows Honorary Doctorate on Professor Louise Richardson". English.mgimo.ru. 12 November 2013. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  33. ^ "University of Aberdeen Honorary Graduates - Summer 2015", University of Aberdeen, Summer 2015
  34. ^ "Queen's University Belfast | Graduation 2016 | Professor Louise Richardson and Rona Fairhead CBE". Qub.ac.uk. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  35. ^ "Vice-Chancellor elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences | University of Oxford". Ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  36. ^ "Three Oxford academics are new Fellows of Academy of Social Sciences | University of Oxford". Ox.ac.uk. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  37. ^ "Laureation Address: Professor Louise Richardson". University of St Andrews. Retrieved 26 June 2016.
  38. ^ "Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of University of Oxford, receives Inaugural Emily Winifred Dickson award from RCSI - Royal College Surgeons in Ireland". www.rcsi.ie. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  39. ^ "Trustees and Staff", Carnegie Corporation of New York
  40. ^ "Louise Richardson | EastWest Institute". Eastwest.ngo. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
  41. ^ "Harvard Gazette: Louise Richardson named Radcliffe's executive dean". News.harvard.edu. 19 July 2001. Retrieved 27 May 2016.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Andrew Hamilton
Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University
January 2016–present
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Dr Brian Lang
Vice-Chancellor and
Principal of the University of St Andrews

January 2009–December 2015
Succeeded by
Professor Sally Mapstone