The First Woman Master of Jesus College at the University of Cambridge in England

WIAReport usually restricts its editorial coverage to higher education in the United States. But at times when an important milestone is achieved elsewhere, we believe it is important to note.

Sonita Alleyne was recently appointed as master of Jesus College at the University of Cambridge in England. The title of master is the equivalent of dean in the United States.

Alleyne will be the first woman and the first Black person to lead the college, which was established in 1496. She will also be the first Black master at either the University of Oxford or the University of Cambridge.

For the 300 years from 1560 to 1860 Jesus College was primarily a training college for Church of England clergy. It experienced major growth in the last half of the nineteenth century due to growing demand for university education from the expanding Victorian professional and middle classes. It became co-educational 40 years ago. Jesus College is now a community of more than 1,000 members, including around 500 undergraduates, around 400 graduates and research associates, and over 100 Fellows, supported by more than 100 staff.

Alleyne was born in in Bridgetown Barbados, but grew up in East London. She was co-founder of Somthin’ Else, a production company for radio programs and currently is chair of the management council of the British Board of Film Classification. She is a former trustee of the British Broadcasting Corporation.

Alleyne holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the University of Cambridge.

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