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Heather Hancock, Master of St John's, gives her first video address to the College community

"Crises come and crises go - and for more than 500 years, St John's College has shown that it always comes through. Coronavirus does not lessen my excitement or enthusiasm about our future"

Heather Hancock was formally admitted as Master of St John's College on 1 October 2020.

A group of 30 Fellows attended a small Admission ceremony in the College Chapel. Due to Covid-19 regulations, Heather is not be able to meet as many members of the College in person as she would have been able to do in normal times, so a video address to the community was recorded.

In it, she says how she wants the College to be renowned for being inclusive and for making it easier for young people of great academic potential to reach St John's regardless of their background, for them to know they belong here and for them to thrive. She also says the College community needs to continue to be resilient, understanding and kind as it weathers the Covid-19 pandemic.

Heather Hancock Admission ceremony
Heather Hancock arrives at the College Chapel to be formally admitted as Master of St John’s. She is flanked by Professor Tim Whitmarsh, who was Vice-Master for a year, and Dr Steve Edgley, President of the College. Photo credit: Geoff Robinson.

She said: “Crises come and crises go and for more than 500 years, St John’s has shown that it always comes through. Coronavirus does not lessen my excitement or enthusiasm about our future. Crises create opportunity. They can make it easier to see a way ahead, and to demolish obstacles that perhaps ought to have come down some while ago. 

“We can learn a lot about ourselves from how we respond to challenging times. I know that St John’s will have a positive, confident, ambitious response – for ourselves, but much more importantly for the benefit of society and the planet. It will be my privilege as Master to guide the College into that happier, brighter and fulfilling future.”

Heather Hancock, who studied Land Economy at St John's, has more than two decades' experience in senior leadership in the private and public sectors and chaired the Food Standards Agency.

She spent 11 years at Deloitte where she was a Managing Partner for the UK and Swiss firms, and led the firm’s global services to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

St John's College was founded in 1511 and is one of the largest Colleges of the University of Cambridge. Its former students include Nobel Prize winners, Prime Ministers, scientists, artists, and leaders in business and industry. Today St John’s has more than 150 Fellows, about 900 students, and 250 members of staff. The Master provides overall leadership of the community of students, staff and Fellows. Heather is the 45th Master of the College and she is the first woman to hold the role.

Published: 1/10/2020

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