Professor Dame Sally Mapstone DBE, FRSE
Professor Dame Sally Mapstone was formally installed as the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews on 29 November 2016.
A new era for St Andrews
Dame Sally is the University's second female Principal and Vice-Chancellor, and in 2020 she accepted an invitation from the University Court to extend her contract until 2026.
Dame Sally has safeguarded and enhanced St Andrews' international excellence in teaching and research through the creation and implementation of the University Strategy for 2018 to 2023. Whilst so doing, Dame Sally has repositioned social responsibility at the heart of University life, including through a commitment to becoming net zero by 2035 and a prioritisation of diversity and inclusivity across the community.
"Leadership is an approach as much as it is an outcome, and it is an approach that we want many more women at St Andrews to consider themselves skilled in and to use across the many parts of this University – as well as elsewhere in their lives."
Dame Sally is a recognised leader in the higher education sector and fulfils several external leadership roles. She serves currently as:
- Convener of Universities Scotland
- a board-member of Universities UK
- Vice-Chair of the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland
- a trustee of UCAS
- Chair of the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) Board
- Chair of Universities Scotland’s Admissions Policy Group
- a trustee of the Europaeum.
Before St Andrews
Dame Sally graduated from Wadham College, Oxford, with first-class honours in English Language and Literature in 1978. She then worked as an editor at Weidenfeld and Nicolson publishing house. She returned to Oxford and attained her DPhil in 1986 for a thesis on the advice to princes tradition in Older Scots Literature.
In 1984, Dame Sally was appointed Lecturer in Medieval English Language and Literature at Worcester College and Randall MacIver Junior Research Fellow at St Hilda’s College, Oxford. She was later appointed a Tutorial Fellow of St Hilda’s College Oxford and a University Lecturer in Medieval English Language and Literature. She was appointed Reader in 2006, and Professor of Older Scots Literature in 2013.
Dame Sally has partnered her academic responsibilities with leadership and community roles. She served as Junior Proctor of the University of Oxford in the 2006 to 2007 academic year, and Chair of the English Faculty Board from 2007 to 2010.
As a lifelong advocate for diversity and inclusion, Dame Sally was involved in the founding of Oxford’s first women’s consciousness-raising groups, served as the National Union of Journalists trade union representative at Weidenfeld and Nicolson, and spent much of her Oxford career at St Hilda’s, Oxford’s last women’s only college. Dame Sally was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Personnel and Equality in 2009, and she founded the Women of Achievement lecture programme and a mentoring programme to equip women to assume senior academic positions entitled Ad Feminam.
Dame Sally served as a Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education at the University of Oxford from 2011 to 2016. In that role, she assumed responsibility for Oxford's teaching and education policies and led the creation of the University of Oxford’s Strategic Plan for 2013 to 2018.
Dame Sally is a medievalist with expertise in medieval and Renaissance Scottish literature. Dame Sally has written and edited eight books on Older Scots and Middle English literature, and has published numerous articles and essays. Her publications include:
- Scots and their Books in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (1996)
- (ed.) Older Scots Literature (2005)
- (ed.) a CD-ROM edition of the Chepman and Myllar prints (2008)
Several of her writings concern the identification of unrecognised textual witnesses to Older Scots texts. She has written also on Chaucer, Malory, and Shakespeare.
Dame Sally's first book, Scots and their books in the Middle-Ages and Renaissance, was published by Oxford University Press in 1996. She has edited, co-edited, or co-authored six further books, including Older Scots Literature and William Dunbar, 'the nobill poyet.' A full publication history is available on Dame Sally's research profile.
She has previously served on the Editorial Board of Scottish Studies Review, and is the former President and now an Honorary President of the Scottish Text Society. In 2017, a Festschrift in her honour, Premodern Scotland: Literature and Governance 1420-1587, edited by Joanna Martin and Emily Wingfield, two of her many former graduate students, was published by Oxford University Press. In 2018, Dame Sally’s contributions to Scottish literature and culture were recognised through her election as the first female President of the Saltire Society.
Dame Sally’s contributions to Scottish literature and culture were recognised through her election as the first female President of the Saltire Society, a role which she held from June 2018 to September 2022.
Honours and awards
Her research distinction and leadership in higher education have been recognised through several positions and awards, including:
- Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
- Emeritus Fellowship of St Hilda's College, Oxford
- Honorary Fellowship of Wadham and St Cross Colleges, Oxford
- Fellowship of the English Association
- Honorary Fellowship of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies
- an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Aberdeen
- a silver medal from the University of Helsinki, whose international advisory board
she chaired from 2015 to 2021
- a medal from the Foreign Policy Association of America for her leadership in
international higher education
- appointment as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty The Queen in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for 2022 for services to higher education.