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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

College leadership

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    College governance

    Murray Edwards College was incorporated in 1972 by a Charter given by the Queen in Council.  The purpose of the College is to provide excellence in the education of outstanding young women from all backgrounds.  It also seeks to provide the opportunities through which young women can further develop their skills, experience and confidence in order to realise their chosen paths forward.  At both undergraduate and graduate level, we encourage and enable our students to develop as creative thinkers, as informed leaders and as insightful decision-makers, equipped to take on the challenges they will meet in life.

    Attached to the Charter are the Statutes, which provide for the constitution and government of the College.  The ultimate governing authority in the College is the Governing Body which comprises official, supernumerary, professorial and research fellows.  

    The Council with oversight of the day to day running of the College consists of four ex officio officers, nine Fellows elected from the Governing Body and the Presidents of the JCR and MCR.  It makes decisions which govern the College’s activities.  

    College officers

    Barbara Stocking
    President – Dame Barbara Stocking

    The President is elected by the Governing Body to preside over the College.  She is responsible for the overall direction and management of the affairs of the College and presides at all meetings of the Governing Body and of the Council.  The President has the power to make provision for the good government and discipline of the College within the limits of the Statutes and Ordinances.

    Dame Barbara Stocking became the 5th President of Murray Edwards College in July 2013.  In addition to Dame Barbara’s College responsibilities, she is a Trustee of the Gates Cambridge Trust and the Cambridge Trusts, and Chair of the Faculty Board of Human, Social and Political Sciences. She is also a member of the University’s International Strategy Committee, and Equality and Diversity Committee as well as a number of other University committees.

    Prior to taking up the post of President at Murray Edwards College, Barbara was Chief Executive of Oxfam from May 2001 until February 2013. During this time she led major humanitarian responses.  Previously a member of the top management team of the National Health Service, she worked as Regional Director for the South East of England, and then as the founding Director of the NHS Modernisation Agency.

    Dame Barbara was educated at Rugby High School, a girls’ state school. She then went on to study at Murray Edwards College (then New Hall).

    She was awarded a CBE for health services in 2000 and a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) for humanitarian services in the 2008.

    Fellows page profile

    Vice President – Dr Rachel Polonsky

    The Vice President is elected by the Governing Body from among their own members. They support the President to build the College, and most particularly represent the Fellowship, taking any issues and concerns to the relevant people. They act as President when the President is temporarily unavailable. In addition, the Vice President leads the election process for a President or, should the need arise, for an Acting President.

    Having read English at Jesus College, Dr Rachel Polonsky changed to Russian Studies as a graduate student, first at Princeton University and later at Oxford University. Rachel returned to Cambridge as a Research Fellow at Emmanuel College in 1994. In 1998, Rachel moved to Moscow with her family where she worked as an independent scholar and freelance journalist for 10 years.

    Rachel has been a Fellow at Murray Edwards College since 2011 and was elected Vice President of Murray Edwards College in 2019.

    Fellows page profile

    Rob Hopwood
    Bursar – Mr Rob Hopwood

    The Bursar is responsible for the College’s finances and investments, estates strategy and general operations, human resource management, commercial conference business, regulatory compliance and for supporting the mission of the College as a place of learning, education and research.

    Mr Rob Hopwood joined Murray Edwards College as Bursar in 2018.

    He was educated at the University of Southampton and Geneva University in Switzerland. After graduating as a modern linguist, Rob specialised in Finance and Corporate Services roles, spending 14 years in Cambridge at Jesus College and then Trinity College, before serving for over 8 years as The British Academy’s Director of Finance and Corporate Services.

    Fellows page profile







    Senior Tutor – Dr Michele Gemelos

    The Senior Tutor is responsible for the environment of the College as a place of excellence for undergraduate and graduate learning, for overseeing the management and delivery of all College teaching and for the support and guidance of Directors of Studies and Tutors. As an academic leader, the Senior Tutor is a strong and credible advocate for the College within relevant intercollegiate and University forums.

    Dr Michele Gemelos became Senior Tutor and a Fellow of Murray Edwards College in June 2020. Michele was previously Deputy Senior Tutor and Deputy Admissions Tutor at St Edmund's College, where she was also Director of Studies in English.

    After undergraduate study at Skidmore College in New York, Michele completed an MPhil, DPhil and PGCE at the University of Oxford. Between 2005 and 2007 she was Wilkinson Junior Research Fellow and Assistant Dean at Worcester College.

    Her specialist research area is 19th and 20th century British and American literature. 

    Fellows page profile 

    Fiona Duffy, Director of Development
    Director of Development – Fiona Duffy

    The Director of Development takes responsibility for the College’s fundraising and alumnae relations. As part of the Officers’ Team, the Director of Development works closely with, and reports to, the President.  She will also work with other officers to develop and deliver the College’s Strategic and Business Plans.

    Ms Fiona Duffy joined Murray Edwards College as Director of Development in November 2013.

    Fiona has worked in higher education alumni relations and fundraising for over 20 years, including with institutions such as the London School of Economics, UCL, the University of Cambridge, the Imperial War Museum and Girton College. Significantly, she worked for The Women’s Library (then at London Metropolitan University, now at LSE) which is the national collection of women’s history.

    Fellows page profile