wadham warden to step down

3rd december 2020

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with much regret we announce that our warden, ken macdonald qc, will be stepping down at the end of this academic year.

  • warden, Ken Macdonald QC

commenting on this announcement, the warden said: “this was not an easy decision, because i have loved being here and i shall always retain enormous affection for wadham and its people. our college is a remarkable place of learning, work, community and friendship, whose values i have admired and always sought to sustain. being a part of all this has been the greatest pleasure and privilege of my professional life.”

this will bring to an end ken’s nine-year tenure as warden, during which time lord macdonald will have overseen the conception and completion of three major building projects, the dorothy wadham building, the william doo undergraduate centre and the dr lee shau kee building which houses oxford’s first dedicated access centre. 

ken’s commitment to wadham’s outreach work, encouraging greater numbers of students from a diversity of backgrounds to aspire to an oxford education, led to wadham launching its access to excellence programme in 2016. since then the college, with the support of alumni, has worked tirelessly to expand wadham’s access programme, hosting visits, workshops and academic sessions for school students from widening participation backgrounds. the results of this work are reflected in the increasing diversity of the student community, not just at wadham, but across oxford, where wadham’s drive towards opening access has been taken up by the rest of the university. the conviction that intellectual ability is no accident of birth has traditionally united the wadham community, and ken has highlighted this, saying: “wadham’s academic record demonstrates that fair access, international reach and academic excellence go hand in hand.” 

his initiation of the wadham human rights forum, which has brought a number of high-profile speakers to wadham, has stimulated critical engagement.  in this and other ways, ken has encouraged debate and self-reflection within the college, and his vision of how that process can become more broadly transformative has proved inspiring and energising. 

professor paul beer, wadham’s sub warden said: “in addition to his many achievements as warden ken has never ceased to promote wadham’s combination of intellectual rigour and compassionate liberalism. he will leave a stronger college, supported by a wide wadham community, and we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.” 

ken’s departure was announced to governing body earlier in 2020 so that the college could begin the procedure of searching for a successor. this announcement will be made later in the current academic year.