Principal honoured by Harvard

Thursday 30 May 2013

Principal honoured by Harvard

The Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews, Professor Louise Richardson, has been awarded the Centennial Medal by the Graduate School of Harvard University.

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal was first awarded in 1989 and honours alumni who have made contributions to society that emerged from their graduate study at Harvard. It is the highest honour the Graduate School bestows, and recipients include some of Harvard’s most accomplished alumni.

Professor Richardson, who graduated with a PhD from Harvard in 1989 , is one of four alumni to be awarded the Centennial Medal this year.

The medal citation describes Prof Richardson as one of America’s “most astute scholars and observers of terrorism.” She was also praised for being ‘as enterprising and visionary an administrator as she is a scholar’.

Robert Art, the Christian A. Herter Professor of International Relations at Brandeis University, commented, “Long before most experts, she saw the dangers of governments overreacting to terrorist acts, argued why such overreaction was self-defeating, and generally prescribed a measured, steady, and sensible approach to dealing with groups employing the terrorism tactic.”

Her Harvard mentor, Buttenwieser University Professor Stanley Hoffmann, said, “Her intelligence, wit, lucidity, intellectual courage, her dynamism, her gifts of common sense, and her generosity inspired trust and admiration for her rectitude and for her teaching ardour.”

Following the completion of her PhD at Harvard, Professor Richardson became an assistant and then associate professor of government. For several years, she taught Harvard’s only courses on terrorism, and was honoured with the Levenson Prize – an award given by the undergraduate student body to the best teachers at the University.

Prior to her 2009 move to St Andrews, she was appointed executive dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard. During her time there, she was instrumental in the transformation of Radcliffe, once a women’s college, into an interdisciplinary centre promoting scholarship across a wide range of academic fields and the creative arts.

In honouring their alumna and former professor this year, Harvard recognise Professor Richardson’s ‘vision to assess emerging threats, for transformative leadership, and for moving seamlessly between the roles of scholar and teacher’.

Professor Richardson accepted her award from the GSAS at a special event at Harvard last night (Wednesday 29 May 2013).

The full citation is available online at:


Niall Scott
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