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17th June 2013

Exeter College Announces Selection of New Rector

The Fellows of Exeter College, Oxford, are pleased to announce that they have concluded their search for a Rector-elect to succeed the current Rector, Frances Cairncross CBE, FRSE, formerly of The Economist, author and broadcaster. The College is delighted that Professor Sir Rick Trainor, outgoing Principal and President of King’s College London, has agreed to become the Rector on 1st October 2014, taking office in the College’s 700th Anniversary year. Professor Trainor will be pre-elected formally to the Rectorship by Exeter’s Governing Body on 10th October 2013, in accordance with the College Statutes.

“I am thrilled and honoured to join Exeter’s students and Fellows at such a pivotal point in the College’s history.  Exeter’s students and Fellows prize the interaction of disciplines and the lifelong friendships that are formed in a collegiate environment, and I look forward to bringing my experience of leading other academic institutions – especially my current university, King’s College London – into this vibrant and forward-looking  community of distinguished academics and students, and to becoming part of the Exeter Family” said Professor Trainor, who was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, where he completed an undergraduate degree at Merton College (of which he is an Honorary Fellow), was a research student at Nuffield College, a junior research fellow at Wolfson College and a lecturer at Balliol College and took his doctorate in Victorian social history .

During his nine years at King’s, Professor Trainor has overseen significant change, including considerable expansion of King’s postgraduate and international student numbers, major developments in biomedicine and law (two primary subject areas at Exeter College) and continuing enhancement of King’s ranking as a leading world university   He has been closely involved in raising over £450m for the King’s Campaign ‘World Questions/King’s Answers’. Professor Trainor had previously announced that he would retire as Principal and President in September 2014 after ten years in post.  He is a past president of Universities UK, the umbrella organisation of vice-chancellors, and was vice-chancellor of the University of Greenwich from 2000 to 2004 following twenty-one years at the University of Glasgow. A dual citizen of the US and the UK, he was knighted in 2010 for services to higher education.

Exeter College is the fourth oldest College in the University of Oxford, founded in 1314 by Bishop Walter de Stapeldon of Exeter, with 350 undergraduates, 200 postgraduates and 44 Fellows. In 2014 it will celebrate its 700th Anniversary with academic symposia, major lectures, and a range of social events commencing in September 2013. In 2009, the College launched its 700th Anniversary campaign, Exeter Excelling, to raise £45m and its success to date has seen Exeter achieve the highest participation rate of alumni giving among universities or colleges outside the USA. Under Frances Cairncross’ leadership, the Campaign has secured the generosity of Exeter’s donors to fund the purchase of the Ruskin College site in Walton Street, Oxford, and underpin an exciting scheme for its regeneration by Architect-of-the-Year Alison Brooks, to become its “Third Quadrangle” in central Oxford with greatly expanded teaching space and student housing. The Campaign has also funded a new graduate housing complex in East Oxford known as Exeter House; a portfolio of graduate scholarships; a wide range of hardship bursaries and travel grants; and endowed three teaching posts in perpetuity.

Professor Trainor commented: “I am excited by the prospect of becoming Rector at Exeter, following in Frances Cairncross’ remarkable footsteps. The breakthrough acquisition and innovative vision of the Walton Street campus will expand the College’s footprint significantly and have an important impact on reducing student hardship by providing affordable high quality, central Oxford accommodation for 90 undergraduates within a collegiate environment. The importance of a multi-disciplinary residential education, focussed around the tutorial system where professional academics live and work alongside students and teach them in one-to-one tutorials may be costly but it remains a form of teaching and learning which is admired throughout the world.  The vision the Fellows have created for this new site will ensure that Exeter continues to be a vibrant and creative place of learning in the 21st century”.

In accepting the appointment, Professor Trainor said: “As Exeter enters its eighth century, it has never been stronger, and I look forward to working with Fellows and students alike to build on the College’s major advances of the last decade and accelerate academic excellence. It is my vision to see a dynamic Exeter at the forefront of the world-leading University of Oxford – intellectually vibrant, and engaging all Exonians (students, alumni, and Fellows) in the wider University and the world beyond.”

“I could have no better successor than Sir Rick Trainor,” said Frances Cairncross.  “Throughout his career as a vice-chancellor, scholar, and student Professor Trainor has championed the importance of academic excellence in a community of multi-disciplinary scholarship.  His commitment to excellence in teaching and research, and a passion for student support and welfare will provide the College with strong leadership in a changing and competitive field of international education and scholarship.”

The Sub Rector, Dr Maureen Taylor (who led the selection process) said: “We are pleased to be able to elect a distinguished and experienced academic leader to become Rector of Exeter in our 700th anniversary year. We are confident that Professor Trainor is the right person to continue and extend the transformative work of our most recent Rectors, Frances Cairncross and Professor Marilyn Butler, and lead the College into its eighth century. We look forward to welcoming Professor Trainor and his wife, Professor Marguerite Dupree, to the College community”.

Professor Sir Richard Trainor KBE, AcSS, FRHistS, FKC

Sir Rick has been Principal (with the additional title of President since 2009) and Professor of Social History at King’s College London since 2004. In 2010 he was knighted for services to higher education. He is a dual citizen of the US and the UK.

Born and raised in the USA, Professor Trainor received a BA summa cum laude with Honours in American Civilization at Brown University. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford where he read Modern History at Merton College (BA 1973).  After obtaining a master’s degree in history from Princeton University he returned to Oxford.  He was in turn a research student at Nuffield College, Oxford; a junior research fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford; and a lecturer at Balliol College, Oxford.  His Oxford DPhil was granted in 1982 in Victorian social history, entitled, Authority and social structure in an industrialized area: A study of three Black Country towns, 1840-1890.

In 1979 he became a lecturer at Glasgow University where he rose to become Professor of Social History, Dean of Social Sciences and Vice-Principal. He served as Vice-Chancellor of Greenwich University for four years between 2000 and 2004, and became Principal of King’s College London in 2004.  In March 2013, Professor Trainor announced he would retire from King’s in September 2014.

Professor Trainor was President of Universities UK, the representative body for all UK universities, between 2007 and 2009, alongside his duties at King’s.

Professor Trainor’s published research has focused on 19th and 20th century British elites, especially in industrialised urban areas. He has been heavily involved in technology-enhanced teaching in history as well as in national initiatives to improve teaching more generally. Having chaired the Advisory Council of the Institute of Historical Research 2004-9, he is President of the Economic History Society, the principal learned society in his field, economic and social history.

Exeter College is Sir Rick Trainor’s fifth Oxford College affiliation, following study and teaching at Merton (where he is an Honorary Fellow), Nuffield, Wolfson, and Balliol Colleges.  Both outgoing Rector Frances Cairncross and incoming Rector Rick Trainor are alumni of Brown University in the United States – the former with a master’s degree in economics and the latter a bachelor’s degree in American Civilization. They also share a connection through Glasgow University from which Frances Cairncross has an Honorary Degree and where her late father was Chancellor.

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