May 28, 2015

Trinity Graduate New Head of Oxford University

Louise Richardson, a political scientist who studied history in Trinity, is to take over in January.

Dominic McGrath | Senior Staff Writer

Trinity graduate Prof Louise Richardson is set to become the first female Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, the highest executive position in the college.

Currently serving as the Principal and Vice Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, she will commence the prestigious role on January 1st.


Richardson is internationally respected as a political scientist, specialising in terrorism and security issues, her seminal work being What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat.

Born in Tramore, Co. Waterford, Richardson was the first in her family to attend university, applying to Trinity to study history when it was still a “very elite, very traditional” department, and at a time when there were only three Catholics in her class of 33.

In a recent interview with the Irish Times, Richardson commented on how her experiences at Trinity changed her outlook on life in Ireland: “It was in Trinity that I got a very different perspective on our history and started challenging what I had grown up with – and was dismissed as ‘Trinity talk’. I became fascinated by how two sets of well-meaning people occupying this small island can have diametrically-opposed interpretations of the same events”.

During her time at Trinity, she won a Rotary Scholarship, allowing her to spend a year at the University of California, an experience she described as “liberating” despite Trinity refusing to recognise or credit it.

After receiving a BA from Trinity in History, Richardson gained an MA in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and an MA and PhD in Government from Harvard University.

Throughout her long career Richardson has received numerous plaudits including the Summer Prize for work towards the prevention of war and the establishment of universal peace, and the the Joseph R Levenson Memorial Teaching Prize, bestowed by Harvard’s undergraduate body in recognition of exceptional teaching.

Her new post in Oxford is one of the most distinguished in higher education in the UK, and one of the most highly paid, garnering a salary of £434,000 in 2013.

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