The University of Oxford is to create a new Chair of Women’s History, named after former US Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton.
The University plans to create the new professorship in perpetuity, embedding the role of women’s history permanently into the fabric of the History Faculty. The Development Office states on their fundraising website that the new Chair will “provide the leadership needed to ensure that women’s history is represented on the global stage and that the progress we have made in recent decades cannot be undermined.”
It is hoped that this new Chair will “encourage more young scholars to pursue a doctorate in women’s history”, and the position will allow for collaboration with the Women in Humanities Research Centre at Oxford and the Centre for Gender, Identity, and Subjectivity within the History Faculty. The choice to endow this Chair in 2020 marks the University’s celebration of 100 years of women receiving degrees, corresponding with the first female Vice-Chancellor.
A University spokesperson told Cherwell: “[t]he new chair will encourage the most promising scholars to conduct cutting- edge research that is original in conception, methods, and vision, including women and their histories in the mainstream of the discipline, and will inspire and sustain a new vision for history in which women’s lives are central”; recruitment is to be initiated in Spring 2020.
Vice-Chancellor Louise Richardson said: “[for] far too long women have remained in the background, and the world has suffered as a consequence. This is changing, but far slower than many of us would like. The Hillary Rodham Clinton Chair in Women’s History at Oxford will accelerate this change and help bring women to where they belong, in the forefront of history and society.”
The University is seeking £4.2 million in endowment for this position, and is currently fundraising through the Development Office. The North America Office of the University calls Clinton “a champion for women, an advocate for women’s policy priorities, and a voice for women’s vital role in society and in history” in its fundraising brochure, specifically highlighting her 1995 speech to the UN in which she coined the phrase “women’s rights are human rights”.
Hillary Clinton tells the University’s Development Office that “History reveals the past, informs the present, and shapes the future. Yet the story has largely focused on men, including women only as an afterthought or in a supporting role. That must change. Oxford has embraced this challenge. The Hillary Rodham Clinton Chair in Women’s History will lead the way, emboldening a global network of scholars and students. I am both grateful and honored.”
The Clintons hold long-standing connections with the University. Hillary Clinton delivered the 2018 Romanes Lecture, titled ‘Making the Case for Democracy’, in the Sheldonian Theatre.
In the same year she was the keynote speaker at the University’s Bonavero Institute of Human Rights, unveiling a statue of former US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She was also made an honorary fellow of Mansfield College. Hillary Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, studied politics as a Rhodes Scholar at University College but did not receive a degree. However, in 1994 he received an honorary law doctorate and a fellowship from Univ. Their daughter Chelsea Clinton received an MPhil in international relations at Univ in 2003, and she went on to complete a DPhil in 2014.
Cherwell has reached out to the Clinton Foundation for comments.