Dorothy Byrne has been known to speak out against class issues and in favour of women's rights in the television industryvysotsky/wikimedia commons

Top TV executive, Dorothy Byrne, will become the sixth President at Murray Edward’s College in September 2021, replacing Dame Barbara Stocking, who has been in the role since 2013. 

Throughout her career, the Editor-at-Large at Channel 4 has been awarded several BAFTA, Royal Television Society and Emmy Awards, and has fought for women’s issues to be given equal broadcast time.

Upon her election, Vice President of Murray Edwards College, Dr Rachel Polonsky, said that Byrne “will be an innovative and inspirational President” and that “her distinguished career in the media [and] passion for widening participation in higher education...will be of great benefit to the College in the years to come.”

Her election follows the retirement of current President Dame Barbara Stocking, who, in accordance with College statutes, must retire at the end of the September following her 70th birthday. 

Byrne detailed that her election was a “huge honour” and that she is “excited to be joining such a modern and forward-thinking community.”

Byrne has been praised for speaking out against sexism in the television industry, and told the Royal Television Society in 2019 that getting “working-class people into TV is a major issue.” She added that she was “shocked” that “at Channel 4 everybody was so incredibly posh...loads of them had been to Westminster School”  having been born in Paisley, Scotland and educated in Blackpool. 

While giving the prestigious MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh International Television Festival in 2019, Byrne called for the television industry to unite in “making big controversial programmes about the UK which put us back at the heart of public debate as we used to be.”

In particular, Byrne influenced Channel 4’s menopause policy for employees, which was introduced in 2019. The policy aims to reduce stigma around menopause and provides support for women, including paid leave, if necessary.

As she was awarded the Grierson’s Trustee’s Award in November 2019, Lorraine Heggerssey, Chairman of the Grierson Trust, praised Byrne for being ‘one of very few women in a man’s world for years’ and “rising above the endemic of sexism of the industry at the time [to] put women’s issues at the heart of her programme making.” Heggerssey also referred to Byrne as “a force to be reckoned with.”