University announces new Principal

Photo: University of St Andrews

Sally Mapstone, currently Pro-Vice Chancellor (Education) at the University of Oxford, has been appointed as the new Principal of the University of St Andrews.

In an email sent out to students, Sir Ewan Brown, senior governor of the University, confirmed that the Professor of older Scots literature will take up the position vacated by Louise Richardson earlier this year.

A fellow of St Hilda’s College in Oxford since 1984, Sir Ewan described Professor Mapstone as, ” a distinguished scholar who is the architect of Oxford’s strategic plan and who has championed the causes of curriculum diversification and widening participation, in parallel with her research interests in Older Scots Literature.”

Professor Mapstone also launched and remains the main sponsor of Oxford’s mentoring scheme for senior women and is currently staging a major new series of Oxford lectures on the theme of “Women of Achievement.”

Sir Ewan continued, “Professor Mapstone was the unanimous choice of the members of our Selection Committee after an exhaustive international search and we are fortunate to have found an academic leader of such outstanding character and calibre.

“Her appointment was formally approved by a meeting of University Court at the weekend, we will make an announcement to media this morning and she will take up post with us in St Andrews in September. I know that she is assured of a very warm and enthusiastic welcome.

“May I place on record Court’s thanks to our Selection Committee for its diligence, and to all the students and members of staff who took part in our consultation to help define the qualities expected of our next leader.

“I would also like to thank Professor Louise Richardson, for her leadership and substantial legacy, and our Acting Principal Professor Garry Taylor and Chief Executive Officer Derek Watson for their commitment and willingness to continue to lead the University until Professor Mapstone is in post.”

Professor Mapstone said: “I am thrilled to be coming to the University of St Andrews as its next Principal. Its focus on quality in education and student experience, its commitment to outreach, and its emphasis on independent-minded research all speak strongly to my own values. I have known the university for many years as a scholar of Scottish culture, and it will be an honour to be part of building its future.”

St Andrews Chancellor, Lord Campbell of Pittenweem, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to persuade Sally to graduate to St Andrews from Oxford! She is a scholar of considerable distinction and an inspired choice to lead St Andrews as it seeks to consolidate its place among the best universities in the world.”

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor at Oxford and formerly Principal of St Andrews, said: “We will miss working with Sally at Oxford where she has made so many valuable contributions over the years, and I hope she will be as happy in St Andrews as I was.

“Sally will bring a deep commitment to the mission of the university. I am confident that both she, and St Andrews, are in good hands.”

Professor Mapstone grew up in West London and was educated at Wadham and St Cross Colleges, Oxford.


  1. She may have been appointed Principal, but she has not been appointed Vice-Chancellor. That position is solely in the gift of the Chancellor. It may be a convention that the Principal is always made Vice-Chancellor, but it is only a convention and it is not a matter for the University Court.

  2. Alasdair is quite correct. Which is why the St Andrews press release and announcement to staff and students did NOT say Prof Mapstone was to be Vice-Chancellor.

  3. At least this Principal is a serious academic with a strong academic background – unlike Richardson who was a failed academic, denied tenure at Harvard and with minimal publications.


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