I am delighted to announce that Clare alumna, Loretta Minghella OBE (1981), has been elected to serve as Clare’s next Master following Tony Grabiner’s retirement in October 2021. Among many strong candidates, she stood out not only for her distinguished career, but for the strength of her commitment to fostering the whole community life of the college. Her combination of high-level organisational acumen with remarkable personal engagement has impressed Fellows, staff and students alike.
Loretta will lead the College at an exciting time in its history as Clare celebrates the 50th anniversary of the admission of women undergraduates in 2022 and its 700th Anniversary in 2026. Her tenure will coincide with the ongoing renewal and restoration of Old Court and our long-term recovery from the disruption caused by the pandemic.
Loretta has been First Church Estates Commissioner since 2017. In this role she is a member of the Church Commissioners' Board of Governors, the General Synod of the Church of England and the Archbishops' Council, and chairs the assets committee which is responsible for managing an investment portfolio of about £8 billion. Before that, from 2010-17, Loretta was Chief Executive of Christian Aid where she oversaw responses to natural disasters, refugee crises and hunger and famine emergencies and led long-term development work and advocacy on major issues affecting the world’s poorest people, including climate change.
Loretta is a lawyer by training who began a career in financial regulation in 1990. The first Head of Enforcement Law, Policy and International Cooperation for the Financial Services Authority, in 2004 she became Chief Executive of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. The 2007-8 financial crisis made this a role of critical ethical and political importance, as she oversaw the payment of over £21bn to victims of bank and other financial failures. In recognition of her exceptional contribution, she was awarded the OBE in the New Year's Honours list of 2010.
In 2018-19 Loretta was elected Alumnus of the Year by Clare’s Alumni Council and delivered a memorable speech to undergraduates at that year’s Halfway Hall dinner. She has spoken of how her time at Clare was, for her, a transformative experience, opening a world of new possibilities, and of how as Master she will work to ensure that Clare remains the welcoming, vibrant, and transformative place that she knows it to be.
Loretta and her husband, Christopher Parsons, are looking forward to welcoming students, staff, Fellows and Clare alumni to the Master’s Lodge in the years ahead.
I fell in love with Clare the first time I crossed the bridge in 1980, a state-school girl with big dreams and small hopes. Three years at Clare gave me a great group of friends, the education and the confidence to tackle many different challenges over what has been a really varied career. It is an enormous privilege to be returning as Clare’s first woman Master to lead this special community of students, alumni, staff and Fellows. Together, we will ensure Clare continues to provide an exceptional environment for teaching, learning and research and offers, to every one of its members, the warmest of welcomes.
On behalf of the College I am grateful to all the staff, students and members of the Fellowship who were involved in the process of selecting our next Master from a field of outstanding candidates.
Dr Fred Parker
2 November 2020
top photo by Dominic Minghella