Bristow personally processed the applications of fleeing Afghans when the Taliban took over in August 2021Hughes Hall

A former ambassador to Russia, Sir Laurie Bristow, will take the reins as the new Hughes Hall president, the College announced on Monday (28/3).

The senior diplomat has had a high-flying career, with previous positions including the UK's ambassador to Afghanistan and Russia, and director for national security at the Foreign Office.

The vice-president of Hughes Hall, Professor Nidhi Singal, who led the search for the next president, said she was “thrilled” to have chosen Bristow to lead the college.

“His commitment to building diverse, creative and outward looking organisational cultures speaks to the core values of the Hughes community. Laurie brings with him empathetic and inclusive leadership qualities, which are highly valued by our students, staff and Fellows.”

Bristow attended Colchester Royal Grammar School before going on to study English Literature at Trinity College, where he was awarded a PhD in 1991. He was the first person in his extended family to gain a university degree.

He was also knighted for services to British foreign policy in 2015.


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During the Taliban's takeover of Kabul in August 2021, Bristow, ambassador to Afghanistan at the time, stayed in Kabul airport to personally process the applications of Afghans fleeing the capital. 

Bristow said: “It is a great honour to be elected President of such an internationally renowned and forward looking College.

“What I particularly like about Hughes Hall is its egalitarian, warm and progressive culture, and its innovation in addressing the biggest challenges of our day, from climate change and inclusive education to improving diversity across its community.”

He will become the tenth president of Hughes Hall when he takes up the post in October, succeeding marketing expert, Dr Anthony Freeling.