Alan Rusbridger, Principal of Lady Margaret Hall (LMH) and former editor-in-chief of The Guardian, has confirmed that he will be leaving the college at the end of academic year. In an email to LMH students, he cited his involvement in “a variety of projects seeking to address the acute crisis of information and democracy which is afflicting so many societies” as the reason for his decision.

The Principal stated in his email that Lady Margaret Hall’s Governing Body had asked him to stay on for a full second term of five years. Rusbridger has declined the offer, committing instead to “devoting more of my time to the question of trust in media and society”.

Alan Rusbridger was elected Principal of Lady Margaret Hall in December 2014, one week after stepping down as editor-in-chief of The Guardian. During his time at LMH, he implemented the Foundation Year scheme, a one year, fully funded course that takes academically able students from underrepresented groups and through a combination of academic and personal support enables them to fulfill their academic potential. The vast majority of Foundation Year students have been successful in earning a place at Oxford or other Russell Group universities after completing the scheme. Since the first cohort of Foundation Year students joined LMH in 2016, both Oxford and Cambridge have committed to implementing the scheme on a university-wide basis.

Rusbridger highlighted his work to improve access to LMH and the wider University in his email: “Our work on inclusion inspired the largest promised donation to the College in living memory. Applications to the College have soared as the profile of LMH has risen. We have opened the community up to numerous conversations with leading public figures. There’s so much to look back on with great satisfaction.”

In addition to his duties as Principal, Alan Rusbridger has published several books on the media, democracy and wider issues in society. His most recent publication, “News and How to Use It: What to Believe in a Fake News World” (2020), will be released on November 26th. As Principal of LMH, he held a number of “In Conversation” events with prominent figures who gave talks and answered questions of LMH students. Some of them included Lady Hale, Sir Jeremy Farrar and Edward Snowden.

Alan Rusbridger was appointed chair of the University’s Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in 2016. In 2020, Rusbridger was announced as one of the first members of the Oversight Board created by Facebook. Regarding his work in the future, he said: “I have found myself recently in some demand to become involved in a variety of projects seeking to address the acute crisis of information and democracy which is afflicting so many societies. I am keen to do what I can to help address this crucial issue.”

Regarding the search for a successor, Rusbridger stated in his email: “The College has embarked on the search for my successor and I will, of course, do my very best to support them and ensure the smoothest of transitions.”

The college said that Rusbridger has “helped transform LMH into an outward-facing College widely known for its inclusivity, diversity and accessibility”.

Alan Rusbridger said in a statement: “I have informed the Governing Body that I will be stepping down as Principal of LMH at the end of the academic year.  By then I will have had six extremely satisfying and productive years in Oxford and, while I was very pleased to be offered a second term of five years, I feel the time will be right to move on.

“I am very proud of the work we have done on inclusion – especially, but not only, the launching of our pioneering Foundation Year for students from under-represented backgrounds.  It is heartening to see this scheme now being rolled out across both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Hundreds, if not thousands, of young people will have their lives changed over time.

“I have recently been asked to get involved in a variety of projects seeking to address the crisis of information and democracy which is afflicting so many societies.  I am keen to do what I can to help address this crucial issue. While I will regret leaving the very many friends we have made in Oxford I look forward to devoting more of my time to the question of trust in media and society.”

Christine Gerrard, LMH Vice Principal, said: “Alan Rusbridger has announced his intention to stand down as Principal of LMH at the end of September 2021. We owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. Alan’s visionary leadership has transformed LMH. He has launched numerous initiatives which have required both courage and energy, from the ground-breaking LMH Foundation Year scheme (now taken up by both Oxford and Cambridge universities), to the regular inclusion in college life of high-profile figures in the media, politics and arts as both Visiting Fellows and guest speakers. His work has captured the imagination of the wider world and put the college on the map. The phrase he adopted early on – ‘LMH: Changing Lives since 1879’ – captures Alan’s ability to harness LMH’s pioneering spirit to wider 21st century access and equality initiatives. Alan’s shaping presence will remain strong in years to come.”

Image credit: Internaz/ Flickr. License CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

This article was updated at 16:35 on 6.11.20 to include comment from Alan Rusbridger and Christine Gerrard.

For Cherwell, maintaining editorial independence is vital. We are run entirely by and for students. To ensure independence, we receive no funding from the University and are reliant on obtaining other income, such as advertisements. Due to the current global situation, such sources are being limited significantly and we anticipate a tough time ahead – for us and fellow student journalists across the country.

So, if you can, please consider donating. We really appreciate any support you’re able to provide; it’ll all go towards helping with our running costs. Even if you can't support us monetarily, please consider sharing articles with friends, families, colleagues - it all helps!

Thank you!