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Dr Louise Richardson - Principal and Vice ChancellorProfessor Louise Richardson has spent her career combining research on terrorism, graduate and undergraduate teaching, and leading organisational change in higher education.

In January 2009, Professor Richardson became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews. She is the first female Principal of St Andrews or of any of the ancient Scottish Universities. She has recently overseen the celebrations to mark the 600th anniversary of the University’s foundation in 1411-1413.

Her tenure at St Andrews has been marked by a refocus on the core academic mission of the institution. The University’s standing in the national and global league tables has never been higher while competition for places has never been keener. During her tenure critical investments have been made in the University’s infrastructure, especially Library Services and IT and the new Medical School Building and the Biomedical Science Research Complex have been opened. The University has acquired the historic Martyrs Kirk which is being transformed into a research library and the acquisition of a thirty six acre site in Guardbridge will enable the realisation of ambitious plans for an energy and innovation centre as well as other cutting-edge developments

Born in the Republic of Ireland, Professor Richardson grew up as one of seven children in Tramore, County Waterford. She received a BA in History from Trinity College, Dublin, an MA in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and an MA and PhD in Government from Harvard University.

Immediately prior to her appointment as Principal, Professor Richardson served as Executive Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and was instrumental in the transformation of Radcliffe, once a women’s college, into an interdisciplinary centre promoting scholarship across a wide range of academic fields and the creative arts. During this time she continued to publish and to teach, both at Harvard College and Harvard Law School.

Professor Richardson’s academic focus has been on international security with an emphasis on terrorist movements. From 1989 to 2001 Richardson served as Assistant and then Associate Professor in the Harvard Government Department, teaching courses on international relations – especially in areas of terrorism, international security and American and comparative foreign policy. During this period she also served as Head Tutor (Director of Undergraduate Studies) in the Government Department. In addition she served on the Faculty Council of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, as well as on committees concerned with such issues as undergraduate education, the status of women, and human rights. She was also for a time Director of the Murray Research Center.

For several years, Professor Richardson taught Harvard’s large undergraduate lecture course, Terrorist Movements in International Relations. For this, she won the Levenson Prize, awarded by the undergraduate student body to the best teachers at the University. 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. 

Professor Richardson is known internationally as the author of the ground-breaking monograph What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat (Random House, 2006). Her other published works include When Allies Differ: Anglo-American Relations in the Suez and Falkland Crises (St Martin’s Press, 1996). Professor Richardson is also the editor of The Roots of Terrorism (Routledge, 2006) and co-editor of Democracy and Counterterrorism: Lessons from the Past (United States Institute of Peace, 2007). Professor Richardson has published many journal articles, book chapters, and reviews on the subject of terrorism and served on the editorial boards of a number of academic journals and presses related to security studies. She was awarded the Sumner Prize for work towards the prevention of war and the establishment of universal peace. Her research has been recognised with awards from, among others, the Ford Foundation, the Milton Fund, the Sloan Foundation, the Krupp Foundation, the Center for European Studies, the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and the United States Institute of Peace.

In the years after 9/11, in addition to her teaching and management roles, Professor 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. She has testified before the United States Senate and has appeared on CNN, NBC, the BBC, PBS, NPR, Fox and a host of other broadcast outlets. Her work has been featured in numerous international periodicals. More recently she has frequently been called upon to speak on a range of educational issues in Scotland, the rest of the UK and internationally.

Professor Richardson currently serves on the advisory board for a number of institutions in the UK, Ireland, and the US, all furthering our understanding of the humanities, political violence, and human rights. She is a trustee of a number of non-profit organisations including the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the East West Institute. She served as a member of the First Minister of Scotland’s Council of Economic Advisors from 2011-2015, and is currently a member of the Scottish Commemorations Panel. In 2010 she was elected to fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Professor Richardson is married to Thomas Jevon, MD. The couple have three children, Ciara, Fiona and Rory.