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About SOAS

Sir Tim Lankester

Sir Tim Lankester was Director of SOAS from 1996 to 2000. During his directorship SOAS continued to grow in size and he helped to take forward many new initiatives. His encouragement and support enabled SOAS to improve its performance on the research side, and to maintain its place among the UK's leading academic institutions. He was particularly active in giving SOAS a high international profile and played a major role in attracting external funding for academic positions and student scholarships. 

Sir Tim Lankester was awarded an Honorary Fellowship of the School in 2002. Beginning his career as an economist with the World Bank, in Washington and then New Delhi, Sir Tim joined HM Treasury in 1973 then became Private Secretary to two successive Prime Ministers, James Callaghan and Margaret Thatcher. He returned to Washington in 1985 with the British Embassy, whilst also sitting on the management boards of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Following his term as Permanent Secretary at the Overseas Development Administration (now DFID), Sir Tim moved to the Department of Education before retiring from the Civil Service in 1994. His interest in education continues in his roles as President of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and serving on the management board of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Sir Tim continues to hold a number of roles both in business and the arts, including his appointment in 2007 to Chair of The Place (the London Contemporary Dance Trust) and his non-executive directorship of Mitchells & Butlers plc.