Colin Lucas

Sir Colin Renshaw Lucas, FRHistS (born 25 August 1940) is a British historian and university administrator. From 1997 to 2004, he was the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University.[1] In May 2006, he was appointed Chair of the Board of the British Library for a four-year term ending 2010.

Sir Colin Renshaw Lucas
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford
In office
11 January 1997  5 October 2004
ChancellorThe Lord Jenkins of Hillhead
The Lord Patten of Barnes
Preceded bySir Peter North
Succeeded bySir John Hood
Master of Balliol College, Oxford
In office
20 August 1994  16 March 2001
Preceded byBaruch Samuel Blumberg
Succeeded byAndrew Graham
Personal details
Born (1940-08-25) 25 August 1940 (age 80)
Alma materLincoln College, Oxford

Early life and education

Lucas was born in Egypt, the son of Frank Renshaw Lucas RA and Janine Charpentier.[2] He was educated at Sherborne and at Lincoln College, Oxford.[3][4]

Academic career

After graduation, he took a post as a lecturer at the University of Sheffield (1965–69), and then later at the University of Manchester (1970–73). He became a Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Balliol College in 1973. In 1990, he took a post at the University of Chicago as Professor of History, where he became chair of the History Department in 1992 and Dean of the Division of Social Sciences in 1993. He returned to Oxford in 1994 to become Master of Balliol College (1994–2000).

Sir Colin Lucas was the first Oxford Vice-Chancellor to serve for seven years (1997–2004), during which time he implemented many changes in the University governance structure, such as the adoption of external members to the University's Council, a radical restructuring of the committee system, divisionalism of academic departments, the establishment of a University Committee on Access and the adoption of new resource allocation and financial management systems.[5]

On his retirement as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Lucas was appointed Warden of Rhodes House, Oxford, responsible for the running of the Rhodes Scholarships (2004-2009). He had previously served as a Trustee of the Rhodes Trust.[6] He also has been serving as a Trustee of the University of the People.[7]

Lucas specializes in the history of 18th century France, especially the French Revolution. His academic publications include The Structure of the Terror (1973) and Beyond the Terror (with Gwynne Lewis, 1983), as well as numerous essays and articles.

Personal life

Lucas is the godfather of the politician Boris Johnson.[8] Lucas is married to Lady Marie-Louise.


In 2002, he was appointed Knight Bachelor for his services to higher education.[4] He has been a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS) since 1973. He was awarded an Officier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France) in 1990, Chevalier Ordre du Mérite in 1994, and Légion d'Honneur in 1998 (Officier in 2005). He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2004.[9] In 2013, he was awarded a Doctor honoris causa by Heidelberg University. In 2014. he was awarded a Bronze Bauhinia Star by Government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

Portraits of Sir Colin Lucas hang at Balliol College[10] and at Rhodes House, Oxford (the latter by Bob Tulloch).[11]

List of positions held


  1. "Previous Vice-Chancellors". University of Oxford, UK. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  2. Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knighthood (107 ed.). Burke's Peerage & Gentry. p. 2425. ISBN 0-9711966-2-1.
  3. "The Sherborne Register 1550-1950" (PDF). Old Shirburnian Society. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  4. "Sir Colin Lucas". People of Today Online. Debrett's. Retrieved 15 July 2011.
  5. Oxford International Review: Our Team: Sir Colin Lucas Archived 14 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 16 March 2016. Retrieved 16 March 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. "The Expertise. The Vision. The Leadership. - UoPeople". Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  8. "Boris Johnson's media scrapes". 17 July 2007. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  9. "APS Member History". Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  10. "Sir Colin Lucas (b.1940), Fellow and Tutor (1973–1990), Master (1994–2001), Vice-Chancellor (1997–2004) - Art UK". Art UK. Retrieved 8 October 2017.
  11. "Gallery - Bob Tulloch". Retrieved 8 October 2017.
Academic offices
Preceded by
Baruch Samuel Blumberg
Master of Balliol College, Oxford
Succeeded by
Andrew Winston Mawdsley Graham
Preceded by
Sir Peter North
Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University
Succeeded by
Sir John Hood
Preceded by
John Rowett
Warden of Rhodes House, Oxford
Succeeded by
Donald Markwell