Lord Simon Woolley is set to become the Principal of Homerton College, Cambridge, making him the first black man to head an Oxbridge College.
Lord Woolley’s appointment will make him the third black person to head an Oxbridge College, following Sonita Alleyne, who became the first when she was appointed as the Master of Jesus College, Cambridge, in 2019 and Lady Amos, who has been the Master of University College, Oxford, since last year.
Coming from a working-class background, growing up on a council estate in Leicester, he left school without A-levels. He later returned to education and studied Spanish and Politics at Middlesex University and did a masters in Hispanic Literature at Queen Mary University.
Lord Woolley is now the founding director of Operation Black Vote, a not-for-profit organisation to support minority ethnic voter turnout. He also served as the chair of the board of the government’s Race Disparity Unit, which works to “collect, analyse and publish government data on the experiences of people from different ethnic backgrounds”. While serving in this role, he was made a life peer by Theresa May.
Regarding his appointment to the position of principal of Homerton College, Lord Woolley said “Its history, from its origins in the East end of London, and its values of inclusion, dynamism and integrity, along with its vision to be a beacon of hope and academic excellence, make this a must-have role.”
The current Vice Principal of Homerton, Dr Lousie Joy, praised Lord Woolley, saying “He has the vision, purposefulness and humility to help young people from all backgrounds feel at home at Homerton.”
He was also complemented by the President of the Homerton Union of Students, Joseph Saxby, who said he was “excited to see the waves he will make and the changes that will come”.
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