Alice Prochaska

Historian and archivist, Principal of Somerville 2010-2017

Alice Prochaska came to Somerville in 1965 to study Modern History. She also took her doctorate at Somerville before beginning her career as a curator, archivist and librarian. Prochaska has managed large staffs of scholars, librarians and archivists and her board-level experience includes government committees, the boards of learned societies and roles as a governor and trustee of university bodies.

Prochaska worked as Director of Special Collections at the British Library and director of the library at Yale University before returning to Somerville in 2010 to take up the principalship.

Energetically involved in fundraising for the college, her tenure saw Somerville’s endowment more than doubled. She also was instrumental in establishing the major new initiatives of the Oxford India Centre for Sustainable Development and the Margaret Thatcher Scholarship Trust, and was known for her particular focus on the wellbeing and academic progress of students and staff.

Prochaska is a Fellow and one-time Vice-President of the Royal Historical Society. She has been chair of the Sir Winston Churchill Archive Trust and the Institute of Historical Research Trust and is a commissioner of the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission, member of the General Federation of Trade Unions Education Trust, and adviser to the OP Jindal Global University and a number of other organisations in India. Her current scholarly interest focuses on the history of cultural restitution, and the relationship between national heritage and national identity, with a special interest in the period of the Second World War. Prochaska is an Honorary Fellow of Somerville.

Did you know? Alice Prochaska’s care for the welfare of college members led Somerville’s students to line up in front of the college library in her last term, holding up huge sheets of cardboard that spelled out ‘Thank you, Ali P’.

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