Oxford University is set to have a female head for the first time in its history, with the nomination of Louise Richardson as vice chancellor.
Prof Richardson is currently in charge at St Andrews and has previously had a senior role at Harvard University.
If she is formally adopted as the 272nd vice chancellor, Prof Richardson will follow almost eight centuries of male heads of Oxford University.
She will replace Andrew Hamilton, who is moving to New York University.
Oxford University appointed its first head in 1230 – and until now all of its vice chancellors have been men.
Prof Richardson has been selected by a nominating committee, headed by the university’s chancellor, Lord Patten, and the decision will have to be approved by the university’s ruling body, the congregation.
She would take up the post in January 2016.
Lord Patten said the nominating committee had been “deeply impressed” by Prof Richardson’s strong commitment to “scholarly values” and her record as an “educational leader”.
A political scientist, her academic expertise has been in security and terror. She has written books about terror and counter-terror in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
Prof Richardson was born in Ireland and studied at Trinity College Dublin and has degrees from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Harvard University. She became vice chancellor of St Andrews in 2009.
“Oxford is one of the world’s great universities. I feel enormously privileged to be given the opportunity to lead this remarkable institution during an exciting time for higher education,” said Prof Richardson.
Oxford will become the latest high profile university to appoint a female leader. Harvard University and Imperial College London are both headed by women.
But The Times Higher Education magazine has highlighted that only one in seven of the world’s top 200 institutions has a female head.