Heather Hancock, who will take up the role of Master in October 2020St John's College

Heather Hancock has been elected as the next Master of St John’s College, succeeding Professor Sir Christopher Dobson who died in September 2019 after 12 years as Master.

Hancock will be the 45th Master of St John’s and the first woman to take up the role.

Hancock currently chairs the the Food Standards Agency, a non-ministerial Government department responsible for protecting public health in relation to food in the UK. Before this, Hancock was Managing Partner at Deloitte for the UK and Swiss firms and led Deloitte’s global services for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

She was appointed Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order in the 2013 New Year Honours and is also a Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire.

“I am deeply honoured to have been elected as the next Master of St John’s College,” Hancock said. “I arrived at St John’s as an undergraduate from a northern comprehensive, the first in my family to go to university, the first pupil from my school in Colne to reach Oxbridge. I know from personal experience the life-changing impact that St John’s can deliver.”

“I’m looking forward to sustaining the College’s global renown for scholarship and excellence, and to championing its pioneering work on access - such as the St John’s Studentships offered to students from lower- and middle-income households.”

Professor Deborah Howard, chair of the committee that led the search for the new Master, said, “[Hancock] is a highly distinguished leader who will build on the College’s international reputation as a supportive, inclusive, and ambitious academic community.”

Hancock has also held various posts in the Civil Service, such as Private Secretary to three Home Secretaries and was Chief Executive of the Millennium Commission, a body set up to celebrate the turn of the millenium. In addition to this she was Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority as well as being a trustee of The Prince’s Trust, helping to introduce its first programmes to help young people in rural areas.

Dr Steve Edgley, President of St John’s added that, “Heather has an extremely impressive track record of being an innovative and inspirational leader, and she will draw on her expertise to guide the College in addressing the challenges and opportunities of academic life.”

“Heather will undoubtedly be an exceptional ambassador for the College as we continue to strive to attract the very brightest students and researchers to St John’s from around the world.”



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Prior to her appointment, in 2018 Hancock was elected as an Honorary Fellow of St John’s and held numerous leadership positions within the college such as President of the Johnian Society and was a member of the College’s Development Committee.

Hancock’s election follows that of Dame Sally Davies who was appointed as the first female Master of Trinity College in February 2019 and Sonita Alleyne who was elected as the first black head of an Oxbridge college and the first female Master of Jesus College in May 2019.

St John’s College first admitted women fellows in 1981 and female undergraduates in 1982.

Hancock will take up her appointment as the first female Master of St John’s on the 1st October 2020.