Former Cambridge student becomes first female master St John's College

Former Cambridge student becomes first female master of 500-year-old St John’s College

  • Heather Hancock was admitted as new Master in socially distanced ceremony 
  • She succeeds Professor Sir Christopher Dobson to become the 45th Master 
  • St John’s College was founded in 1511 and is one of the largest at the university

A former Cambridge University student has become the first ever female master of 500-year-old St John’s College.  

Heather Hancock was admitted as the new Master in a special socially distanced ceremony at the College’s Victorian Chapel today. 

She is the first woman to take up the role since the founding of the college in 1511 and was admitted in front of 30 Fellows wearing masks.

Heather Hancock (pictured) was admitted as the new Master in a special socially distanced ceremony at the College’s Victorian Chapel today

Ms Hancock succeeds Professor Sir Christopher Dobson, who died in September 2019 after 12 years as Master, to become 45th Master of St John’s.

She was chair of the Food Standards Agency, a non-ministerial Government department that regulates the food and feed industry.

Before that she spent 11 years at Deloitte, where she was a managing partner for the UK and Swiss firms.

She succeeds Professor Sir Christopher Dobson, who died in September 2019 after 12 years as Master, to become 45th Master of St John’s

She also led the firm’s global services to the London 2012 and Paralympic Games.

St John’s College was founded in 1511 and is one of the largest Colleges of the University of Cambridge.

Its former students include Nobel Prize winners, Prime Ministers, scientists, artists, and leaders in business and industry.

Today St John’s has more than 150 Fellows, about 900 students, and 250 members of staff. 

Ms Hancock, who studied Land Economy at St John’s, said: ‘I am deeply honoured to have been elected as the next Master of St John’s College’

The Master provides overall leadership of the community of students, staff and Fellows.

Ms Hancock, who studied Land Economy at St John’s, said: ‘I am deeply honoured to have been elected as the next Master of St John’s College. 

‘I arrived at St John’s as an undergraduate from a northern comprehensive, the first in my family to go to university, and the first pupil from my school in Colne to reach Oxbridge.

St John’s College was founded in 1511 and is one of the largest at the university and today has more than 150 Fellows, about 900 students, and 250 members of staff

‘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, who chaired the College committee which led the search for the new Master, said: ‘We are delighted to announce the election of Heather Hancock as the next Master of St John’s College. 

‘She is a highly distinguished leader who will build on the College’s international reputation as a supportive, inclusive, and ambitious academic community.’

The Master provides overall leadership of the community of students, staff and Fellows

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