SOAS University of London

Valerie Amos to be ninth Director of SOAS, University of London

29 June 2015
Valerie Amos

Valerie Amos has been appointed 9th Director of SOAS, University of London. The former politician and senior UN official will take up the role in September 2015, following the retirement of Professor Paul Webley.

From 2010, Valerie Amos served as Undersecretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator at the UN. Ms Amos served in a number of roles in the public sector including in local government and as Chief Executive of the Equal Opportunities Commission. She was an adviser to the Mandela Government on leadership and change management issues and was appointed a Labour Life Peer in 1997. Baroness Amos went on to become the first black woman to sit in the British cabinet as Secretary of State for International Development. She became Leader of the House of Lords and Lord President of the Council in October 2003 and served as UK High Commissioner to Australia before joining the UN.

Since it was founded in 1916 as the School of Oriental Studies, the School has forged a global reputation for research and teaching with a focus on Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Valerie Amos will join SOAS just a few months before the start of its centenary year.

Valerie Amos said: ‘I am honoured to be joining SOAS at this important point in its history. SOAS is a special institution with global recognition for its research and teaching on Asia, Africa and the Middle East, bringing different perspectives to scholarship.

‘With its vast repository of knowledge and expertise on its specialist regions, SOAS is uniquely placed to inform and shape current thinking about the religious, political, cultural, security and economic challenges of our world. There is an interrelated set of issues which need to be addressed to manage growing complexity and the contradictions of greater global connectivity and greater fragmentation. SOAS is a place where I can continue to grow and learn and use the skills, knowledge and experience I have gained over the years.’

Tim Miller, Chair of SOAS’ Governing Body said: ‘Valerie Amos is a major figure on the international stage. Like SOAS, she is renowned for formidable intellect, international outlook, cultural fluency and engagement with contemporary issues. She also brings impressive experience of operational and strategic management to the role. We look forward to welcoming her to SOAS.’


Notes to Editors:

About SOAS

SOAS, University of London is the world’s leading institution for the study of Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It is a resource of global relevance, offering world-class research and teaching expertise in languages, arts, humanities, law and social sciences. It equips people for a global economy and multicultural society. The recently launched SOAS China Institute and SOAS South Asia Institute are designed to channel SOAS regional expertise to the wider worlds of government, business, media, education, the arts, NGOs and beyond.

SOAS constantly innovates its curriculum to reflect world issues. Recent new programmes include International Relations, English (global perspectives), World Philosophies, International Management and Global Diplomacy. It has more than 5,000 students on its central London campus in the heart of Bloombury and 4,000 students from around the world studying on distance-learning courses.

SOAS President is renowned international stateswoman and advocate on women's and children's rights, Graca Machel.

Valerie Amos’s education

Born in Guyana. Educated at Bexley Technical High School for Girls (now Townley Grammar School), south-east London. BA Sociology from the University of Warwick; MA Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham; Research in Applied Education, University of East Anglia, investigating the transition from school to work for black girls.

An advocate of higher education, Baroness Amos is co-founder and Patron of the Amos Bursary, promoting higher education opportunities for young men of African and Caribbean heritage in the UK.