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Lord Simon Woolley

Homerton College has announced the election of Lord Woolley of Woodford as its next Principal. Lord Woolley will succeed Professor Geoffrey Ward on 1 October 2021.

Homerton College has announced the election of Lord Woolley of Woodford as its next Principal. Lord Woolley will succeed Professor Geoffrey Ward on 1 October 2021. 

Simon Woolley is the Founding Director of Operation Black Vote (OBV), the internationally renowned campaigning NGO which he launched in 1996. OBV works with ethnic minorities in the UK to increase understanding of civic society, participation in Parliament and public life, and to promote equality and human rights. Formerly an Equality and Human Rights Commissioner, in 2018 Lord Woolley was appointed by Prime Minister Theresa May to create and lead the UK Government’s pioneering Race Disparity Unit. The Unit collects, analyses and publishes data on how crime, education and health are affected by ethnicity.

Fostered and then adopted as a small child, Lord Woolley grew up on a council estate in Leicester, and left school without A-levels. He later returned to formal study via an access course, gaining a BA in Spanish and English Literature at Middlesex University and then an MA in Hispanic Studies at Queen Mary University of London. He is passionate about educational access and the importance of recognising and supporting marginalised potential.

Lord Woolley has a track record of addressing representational imbalances, transforming institutions and nurturing individuals. His cross-party and cross-sector work with OBV has seen the number of MPs from black and minority ethnic backgrounds rise from 4 to 65 over the past two decades. In collaboration with Magdalen College, Oxford, he has been instrumental in the development of Pathway to Success, a programme designed to equip future BME leaders with the tools and knowledge required for senior leadership.

Lord Woolley said:

“What a truly great honour to be appointed the next Principal of Homerton College. 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. It’s a great privilege to follow in the footsteps of Professor Geoffrey Ward, and I hope I can balance the College’s friendliness and warmth with ambition, as he has done so well. I’m excited to get to know the staff and students in Homerton and the wider University of Cambridge, and I’m excited for the next part of Homerton’s journey.”

Professor Geoffrey Ward said:

“I welcome Simon Woolley very warmly, and congratulate him on his election to this wonderful job. Throughout my time as Principal, I have taken great pleasure from the Homerton community, particularly our magnificent students, and I am sure he will get a warm welcome from them too.  One of the glories of Homerton is that it is never the same today as it was yesterday, and I wish Simon every success in leading the College to ever greater heights.”

Read more on the College's website 


02 April 2021