News Releases

Oxford’s First Female Vice-Chancellor to Receive UWI Honorary Degree

For Release Upon Receipt - May 27, 2016


The University of the West Indies (The UWI) is pleased to announce that an honorary doctor of laws degree will be conferred on the University of Oxford’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson. The conferral will take place at a special convocation in the Assembly Hall at The UWI’s Mona Campus in Jamaica on 10 June, 2016, beginning at 5pm (EST).

The decision for the conferral was confirmed at The UWI’s University Council Meeting on 29 April, 2016. Honorary degrees are awarded to persons of eminence in the arts and sciences or some other field of intellectual endeavour, or persons who have made outstanding regional or international contributions in areas served by the University or otherwise. 

Commenting on the recommendation for the conferral, Vice-Chancellor Beckles noted, “Professor Richardson is the first female Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University in its near 800 years. This is a seismic transition in the thinking of an ancient academy that has received dozens of distinguished Caribbean students and faculty. It's a moment of celebration for women and progressive persons who have advocated for gender equity in leadership roles and demonstrates that even institutions like Oxford with a history of exclusion of women in its highest positions, is seeing a removal of oppressive barriers.” 

Vice-Chancellor Beckles describes Professor Richardson as being very conscious of the role of the Caribbean in building the reputation of The UWI and Oxford and noted that she has done much to honour the relationship. Before her appointment at Oxford, Professor Richardson served as Vice-Chancellor at the University of St. Andrews, which also has strong historic links with The UWI. In 2015 she was a visiting research professor at The UWI St Augustine Campus and in 2015 Vice-Chancellor Beckles gave a lecture on a model for reparations at the University of Oxford on the invitation of Professor Richardson.   The UWI and Oxford University have had a long history of faculty-driven joint research and have been partners in many disciplines. 

According to University regulations, honorary degrees are normally given at the time of The UWI graduation ceremonies. However a special convocation for the conferring of an honorary degree may be held at any of the University Campuses with the approval of the University Senate and Finance and General Purposes Committee.  

During her visit to Jamaica, Professor Richardson will attend a number of University related social events including a luncheon to launch a scholarship fund in the name of former UWI Vice-Chancellors, Sir Alister McIntyre, and the late Professor Rex Nettleford. The theme of the luncheon is The Ethical University: Poverty Must Fall: Empowering Marginalized Communities. 

Vice-Chancellor Beckles said that “former UWI Vice-Chancellors Sir Alister McIntyre and Prof. Rex Nettleford are among a list of distinguished Caribbean nationals who are graduates of Oxford University.”  The scholarship fund, he said, “will provide funding for UWI students who need assistance with their fees and also give them exposure through short term engagements at Oxford University. 


About Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson

Professor Louise Richardson became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, located in the United Kingdom, on 1 January 2016. Prior to this appointment, she served as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, Scotland for seven years. A native of Ireland, she studied history in Trinity College, Dublin before gaining her PhD at Harvard University where she spent twenty years on the faculty of the Harvard Government Department and latterly as Executive Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. She served on Scotland’s Council of Economic Advisers and currently sits on the boards of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Booker Prize Foundation and numerous other charities. 

A political scientist by training, Professor Richardson is widely recognised as one of the world’s foremost experts on terrorism and counter-terrorism. Her publications include Democracy and Counterterrorism: Lessons from the Past (2007), What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat (2006), The Roots of Terrorism (2006), and When Allies Differ (1996). She has also written numerous articles on international terrorism, British foreign and defence policy, security institutions, and international relations, lectured to public, professional, media and education groups and served on the editorial boards of several journals and presses.  

Her awards include the Sumner Prize for work towards the prevention of war and the establishment of universal peace, Harvard’s Centennial Medal, and honorary doctorates from MGIMO University, Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Aberdeen. In 2015 she became an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy.


Bio courtesy: the University of Oxford.

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About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in BarbadosJamaicaTrinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)