News Releases

UWI to honour Oxford’s First Female Vice-Chancellor

For Release Upon Receipt - June 7, 2016


This Friday, June 10 at 5:00 pm (Jamaica time), The University of the West Indies (UWI) will honour University of Oxford’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson with a doctor of laws degree. The honorary degree will be conferred during a special convocation at the Assembly Hall, The UWI Mona Campus in Jamaica which will also be streamed live via UWITV.

The result of a decision taken by the University Council, Professor Richardson will join the ranks of distinguished UWI Honorary Degree recipients including the Rt. Rev Bishop Desmond Tutu, His Imperial Majesty Haile Selassie I and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. Professor Richardson has made history in her own right as the first female Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University in its near 800 years. In commenting on her achievement, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, UWI Vice-Chancellor, said “…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.” 

Acknowledging valued ties to The UWI and expressing her pleasure at the award, Professor Richardson remarked, “I am so pleased to be welcomed to Mona Campus and very proud to be honoured by the University. Both Oxford and St. Andrews enjoy deep and longstanding ties with The University of the West Indies, and with the Caribbean. The Convocation ceremony in Jamaica will offer a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our history, our shared commitment to education, and our ambitions for the future.” 

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. 

The June 10 convocation is permitted by special approval of the University Senate and Finance and General Purposes Committee as honorary degrees are usually conferred during The UWI graduation ceremonies.   

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

In describing the grant scheme, Vice-Chancellor Beckles highlighted that “former UWI Vice-Chancellors Sir Alister McIntyre and Professor 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 January 01, 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. In 2016 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and to the Academy of Social Sciences in the United Kingdom. 

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.)