Home / People / #Helmer: Baroness Amos named 9th Director of School of Oriental and African Studies

#Helmer: Baroness Amos named 9th Director of School of Oriental and African Studies

Britain’s first black woman cabinet minister has been appointed Director of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London.

Labour peer Valerie Amos, a former senior UN official, will become the 9th director of SOAS in September following the retirement of Professor Paul Webley.

From 2010, Baroness 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 government of Nelson Mandela on leadership and change management issues and was appointed a Labour Life Peer in 1997.

Guyana-born 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.

“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”, Baroness Amos said.

“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.”

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