St Andrews elects Dr Leyla Hussein, first black female rector in the uni’s 600 years

She said: ‘History has been made, change is coming’

In the St Andrews rectorial elections held last week, Dr Leyla Hussein OBE became the first black female rector in the university’s 607 years.

Dr Hussein said that “change is coming” after she topped the polls on Friday.

This comes after the university apologised for its lack of diversity over the summer, saying: “Acknowledging that injustice is an absolutely fundamental step in our reform”.

Dr Hussein tweeted: “I’m excited to have been elected as the new Rector for St Andrews University; history has been made today.

“I’m the first black woman to hold this position. Thank you to my fantastic campaigning team. Change is coming.”

She said on her website: “I have a lot to live up to and one thing I want to be very clear about is that I am not here to be a token black woman or to tick a box on a diversity check list.

“I am thrilled if I am an inspiring role model for black girls, but I want to be a good role model for all young people and I stood in this election to be a great Rector and strong advocate for the students at St Andrews.”

Dr Hussein is a psychotherapist, award- winning international campaigner leading the fight against female genital mutilation (FGM) and a global leader on  gender rights.

She received an OBE in the 2019 Birthday Honours list for services in tackling FGM.

Dr Hussein also said: “I am glad that St Andrews has already committed to removing barriers for disadvantaged students, increasing diversity, and improving support for BAME students and staff.

“Now this must be delivered and  we need to look beyond our differences to what we share and what brings us together: Our passion for learning; a desire to improve ourselves and the world we live in; and, our compassion for others.”

This historic election comes after the University was accused of not supporting BAME students last summer.

Professor Mapstone said in an email in June: “We know that for decades, St Andrews hasn’t got this right, that we’ve let down our BAME students and staff, and that our university has been, and continues to be, so much the poorer for it.

“On behalf of this institution, I apologise for that.

“Acknowledging that injustice, understanding what we are and have been doing to right it, and where we must all play a part in enabling structural change, is an absolutely fundamental step in our reform.

“Every one of the initiatives underway at St Andrews exists because we want to make a real difference to people’s lives.

“These actions are only a start, but I hope they provide a sense of depth and momentum, and the centrality of diversity to what St Andrews, under my leadership, aspires to be.”

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