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Senior Executive Team

Professor Wendy Thomson CBE


Professor Wendy Thomson CBE was appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University of London in 2019 following a distinguished career in government and higher education.

Born in Montreal Canada,  she is recognised as an international expert in public service governance and reform, experienced leader and adviser, working closely with governments in Canada, the United Kingdom and internationally.

Moving to the UK in the 1980s, Professor Thomson obtained a PhD in social administration from the University of Bristol supported by scholarships from Canadian governments. She stayed on, working for the Greater London Council before becoming Assistant Chief Executive of Islington Council in London. In 1993, she was appointed Chief Executive of the charity, Turning Point. Professor Thomson returned to local government as Chief Executive of Newham Council before becoming Director of the Audit Commission.

During Prime Minister Tony Blair’s second government, Professor Thomson led the Office of Public Service Reform in the Cabinet Office and served on the advisory committees of the University of Warwick’s school of local government, the University of Birmingham’s INLOGOV and several think tanks. She was awarded a CBE for her work on public service reform in the 2005 New Year Honours.

In 2005, Professor Thomson was given a tenured Professorship in Social Policy at McGill University, Montreal when she was appointed Director of the School of Social Work and founding member of the centre for research on Children and Families.  She taught public policy, supervised graduate students and established a research programme in child welfare and communities in northern Quebec.  Alongside her role at McGill, she was appointed to lead Commissions for the governments of Ontario (Commission on Child Welfare) and Quebec (Patient-based financing of health care). International work included advising governments in Nigeria, Ghana, the UNDP and OECD missions in the Middle East. In 2014 she was received a Women of the Year award from the YWCA for her work in education.

In 2014, Professor Thomson returned to the UK to serve as Chief Executive of Norfolk County Council, a role she combined with leadership of Norfolk’s Integrated health system and development of a Combined Authority for East Anglia.  

As chair of the London Anchors Institution Network and the London Research and Policy Partnership and member of the London Partnership Board Professor Thomson is committed to the contribution the university can play in enriching life in London.  

She has served on many public and private Boards of Directors and is currently on the board of London Higher, The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU), and the University Advisory Board for Coursera.  She also is chair of the Social Market Foundation.