Oxford alumni associations in New York are furious at the university’s new vice-chancellor after she said America had “overreacted” to 9/11.
Louise Richardson, who awarded an honorary doctorate to Hillary Clinton in 2013, said the population of Northern Ireland had proven much more “resilient” to terrorism than the U.S.
“The British population in the course of the Troubles and violence in Northern Ireland proved really quite resilient, I think far more so than the U.S., and the scale of the over-reaction in the U.S. to the 9/11 atrocity was reflective of the fact that it was such a new experience in the U.S.”
The Times now reports that Andrew Shaindlin, a consultant who advises universities on fundraising, said Richardson would be “reminded” of her remarks when she meets alumni associations in New York.
There has already been a furious reaction from relatives of victims. Sally Regenhard, who lost her son Christian in the attacks, said: “I think she really needs to reassess this. I’m one of 1,100 people who have never received one iota of remains. It’s a pain and it’s a wound that will never heal.”
Jim Riches, whose son Jimmy was also killed, added: “The IRA was bombing British soldiers. On September 11 we are talking about people who went to work. This was an act by criminals who murdered 3,000 people. If she thinks 3,000 people aren’t worth it she has a lot of soul searching to do.”
He also said that if he were someone who gave money to Oxford, he would reconsider.
Professor Richardson was appointed the first female vice-chancellor in the university’s near-1,000-year history last month after serving as principal and vice-chancellor of the University of St Andrews in Scotland for six years. She is due to take up the position in Oxford on 1 January 2016.
Her comments were also criticised by New York congressman Peter King, who said: “I don’t see any overreaction. Considering the enormity of the attack, we acted with great restraint. An academic talking from thousands of miles away has a lot of nerve.”