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My 'in conversation' with Dame Professor Louise Richardson

November 9, 2022

We recently welcomed Oxford University Vice-Chancellor Dame Professor Louise Richardson to Kellogg for an ‘In conversation’ event with President Professor Jonathan Michie, and Q & A session with Kellogg members. Professor Michie tells us about the evening below.

This year has seen several Kellogg Fellows change roles – although I’m pleased to say in all cases retaining their Kellogg Fellowships. Therese Hopfenbeck and Josh McGrane were head-hunted by the University of Melbourne to run their Assessment and Evaluation Research Centre, and have become Visiting Fellows; HRH Prince Charles became King Charles III, and continues as one of our Bynum Tudor Fellows; and Louise Richardson has been appointed President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York from January 2023 and will continue as an Honorary Fellow, having completed a full seven years as Vice Chancellor.

Professor Richardson accepted an Honorary Fellowship at Kellogg as soon as she was appointed Vice Chancellor, before actually arriving in Oxford in January 2016. One of her first acts as Vice Chancellor was to swear in Elizabeth Gemmill as Junior Proctor, in March 2016. On 1st November 2022, Professor Richardson came to Kellogg for an ‘In Conversation’ event, at which she took questions on a wide range of issue – and on anything our College members cared to ask – and was delighted to have the first question from Elizabeth, on lessons from her Vice Chancellorship for the Carnegie role.

A major topic discussed was environmental sustainability, so it was fitting that the event was in our Hub, with the plaque commemorating the Vice Chancellor’s official opening of the building on June 17th 2017, when she had congratulated Kellogg on having the only passivhaus-accredited building in the Collegiate University, and said she hoped that others across the University would follow our example. More than five years later, our Hub remains the only building in the Collegiate University to have achieved this. Professor Richardson was pleased to report, though, that the new Life and Mind building – the largest construction project in the University’s history – is also aiming to achieve passivhaus accreditation. We will be in good company.

In 2016, the Times Higher had never ranked a UK university as the global number one. That changed in Professor Richardson’s first year as VC, when Oxford was ranked number one. This has continued for each year since. In the 2022 publication giving the full listing, the VC, far from simply reporting Oxford’s strengths and successes, stressed the importance of doing more for early career researchers. She repeated this call at our “In Conversation” event. The VC had created an additional member of University Council, for a representative of these several thousands of our colleagues. I’m pleased to say that the person elected into this role is Kellogg Research Member of Common Room, Hilary Wynne – and it was clear that the Vice Chancellor was equally delighted at this.

The Vice Chancellor admitted to having got into trouble for describing George Floyd’s death as a “murder” before the trial had come to that conclusion. But her swift action in establishing the Race Equality Task Force – on which our then Senior Tutor Yasmin Khan served – was widely recognised as having had a positive impact across the collegiate University. That was reflected by the audience including our Racial Justice and Equality Fellow, Shreya Atray; the creator of our exhibition on Oxford’s first black women students, Urvi Khaitan; and our 2022 Black History Month Lecturer, Professor Iyiola Solanke.

The discussion continued over drinks, with students in particular questioning the Vice Chancellor and seeking her advice.

Professor Jonathan Michie
President, Kellogg College