Select the individual's name below to find out more about each President & Provost.
For more information about UCL's history, visit the interactive timeline on the About UCL website.
was decided in 1900 that there should once again be a salaried head of the
university, with the title of Principal. In order to avoid confusion with the
newly formed Principal of the University
of London, Foster’s title
was renamed Provost. Formerly a student and teacher at the university in the
late 19th Century, Foster was also President of the Union before taking up his post as UCL’s first Provost.
retired from his post as Provost in 1929 to focus on becoming Vice-Chancellor
under the university’s new Statutes. He was replaced by Sir Allen Mawer, a
former graduate student of UCL who had also become a Professor of English at Newcastle and Liverpool.
oversaw a tumultuous time for the university after substantial damage was
endured during the Second World War. In 1943, he remarked: “There was hardly a
square foot of glass.” Previously an engineer, Pye worked on the development of
jet propulsion whilst Director of Scientific Research for the Air Ministry.
A former English student at the University, Evans later went on to become Education Director of the British Council during the war. He also retained a strong public presence as a well-known literary critic, writer and broadcaster. He oversaw a period of great expansion at UCL.
the backdrop of diminishing funds and student unrest, Lord Annan exerted strong
diplomacy during his time as Provost. There were still a number of building
projects that took place during this time however. The last major building to
be opened was the Wates House, new home of the Bartlett School of Architecture
and Planning, in 1975, thanks in large part to a substantial donation from the
came to UCL with a much-admired academic reputation having been a Lucasian
Professor of Applied Mathematics at Cambridge
University at the time of
his appointment. Faced with substantial government cuts to higher education
during the 1980s, UCL dramatically increased its funding from non-governmental
organisations, thus maintaining its growth during this difficult time.
professional life had mostly been spent in industrial scientific research,
marking something of a shift with previous provosts. There were several
successful projects and expansion during this time including the merger of UCL
and the Institute
of Child Health in 1996.
Smith oversaw successful research bids in the Joint Infrastructure Fund and through the Science Research Investment Fund, totalling £100m. However, a worsening deficit and Smith’s academic re-structuring attracted criticism from some leading to his resignation in 2002 to resume research work. Sir Derek Roberts returned to his previous post on an interim basis until a successor was found.
Barrister, environmental lawyer, academic and public servant, Professor Grant became UCL’s ninth Provost in 2003. He has written extensively on many subjects including planning and environmental law, biotechnology regulation, finance and political management, central–local government relations and human rights. Professor Grant was awarded a CBE in 2003 for service to planning law and local government, and was knighted for services to higher education in 2013.
Information sourced from Negley Harte and John North's The World of UCL: 1828-2004 (UCL Press 2004).