The Principal of Somerville College, Dr Alice Prochaska, will step down in September 2017 after seven years of dedicated service.
Despite gaining the popularity of her undergraduates, Dr Prochaska is forced to retire because Somerville’s statutes state that the maximum age the serving president can reach is 70; she will be celebrating that milestone next July.
Dr Prochaska has overseen Somerville’s endowment double since she took up the presidency of the college in 2010. This has helped to fund the creation of the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development as well as the Margaret Thatcher Scholarship Trust, the initiation of which the Oxford Student reported last week. A series of building plans started under her presidency will see the college site expand to provide accommodation for all undergraduate and first-year post-graduate students.
With a reputation for friendliness, her informal approach and commitment to student welfare was noted by the College when they announced her retired. Alex Crichton-Miller, JCR President, noted that “We in the JCR are certainly sad that such a wonderful Principal has decided to move on. We can only hope that the college will find a replacement as considerate towards the JCR and as ambitious for the college as a whole.”
She completed her BA at Somerville in 1968 and, after working as an assistant keeper of the London Museum from 1971 to 1973, she returned to Somerville to take a DPhil in modern history in 1975. She then worked for nine years at the Public Record Office (now part of the National Archives) before serving at the Institute of Historical Research as deputy director (1984–92) and then as director of special collections at the British Library (1992–2001), before moving over to Yale as the University Librarian (2001–10).
In the meantime, she has devoted much energy to improving the provision of history in education, and has been active on numerous archives and libraries committees and boards of trustees. As a historian, her academic specialisms include British reform movements and trade unions; she was Vice-President of the Royal Historical Society from 1995 to 1999.
The deadline for applications to replace Dr Prochaska as Principal is 14 October.
Image: Philip Allfrey