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Appointment of first female Dean of Christ Church

The first female Dean of Christ Church the Rev Canon Professor Sarah Foot

Appointment of first female Dean of Christ Church the Rev Canon Professor Sarah Foot

The King has approved the appointment of Rev Canon Professor Sarah Foot PhD, FRHistS, FSA as Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. Professor Foot is the first woman to be chosen for the role in Christ Church’s almost 500-year-long history.

Professor Foot is the Regius Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Oxford University and a priest serving as a Residentiary Canon at Christ Church. Her teaching and research have focused on women in religion, medieval monasticism and the early history of the English Church. She is currently working on a study of the life and work of the Venerable Bede.

The Dean designate said: “It is an honour to have been appointed to this role and to work alongside the Governing Body to serve the students, academics, staff, Chapter and congregation of Christ Church. As we approach our 500th anniversary, we can ensure that Christ Church continues to excel in advancing education, learning and religion long into the future.

“Together, we must make a success of the Governance Review process and see through changes that will be necessary when it’s complete. This work is vital. It will give our colleagues the structures that they need to do what matters most to all of us: offering teaching and research, and a Cathedral liturgy, of the highest quality.

An independent review of the governance of Christ Church, chaired by Dominic Grieve KC, is underway. Implementing subsequent changes to the governance and statutes of Christ Church will require the approval of the University, the Church of England, the Privy Council and Parliament. This is likely to be a lengthy process. Once it is complete Professor Foot intends to stand down to allow new leadership to take Christ Church forward under new statutes. 

The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford said:

"I am delighted to welcome Sarah’s appointment as Dean of Christ Church in this key period in the life of the College and the Cathedral following her long tenure as one of our four Canon Professors in the Cathedral. Sarah combines a distinguished career as an historian, a deep personal faith and reservoirs of wisdom with her leadership experience of Christ Church in recent months. I look forward very much to working in partnership with Sarah in the coming years in the implementation of the governance review and as a member of the senior leadership team here in the Diocese of Oxford.”

Speaking on behalf of the Cathedral Chapter the interim Sub Dean, the Venerable Jonathan Chaffey, said: "I extend heartfelt congratulations to Sarah on her appointment as Dean of this House of Christ that uniquely includes both College Chapel and Diocesan Cathedral. Her appointment offers timely leadership for the clergy, staff, volunteers and congregations of the Cathedral as we look to engage further with our outward-focussed mission, offering inspirational worship, open hospitality, spiritual education and pilgrimage to all. We are delighted at Sarah’s appointment, knowing that she will bring both continuity and fresh energy, passion and vision to our future life and work."

In addition to her Faculty position, Professor Foot has been serving since 2021 as Censor Theologiae of Christ Church. The holder of this role deputises in the Dean’s absence; since the Deanship became vacant, she has effectively fulfilled the role of Acting Head of House. She will take up her appointment as Dean in July 2023.


Notes for editors

  • Prof Foot was asked to become the Dean by the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak MP. The Prime Minister recommends appointees to the Deanship of Christ Church to the King. The position of Dean is currently vacant.
  • Christ Church comprises both the Cathedral of the Diocese of Oxford and a constituent college of the University of Oxford. The Dean chairs both the Governing Body and Chapter of Christ Church and is responsible with the Governing Body for the college and with the Chapter for the running of Christ Church Cathedral. 
  • The independent Governance Review of Christ Church is ongoing. Its purpose is to ensure that Christ Church’s statutes, by-laws and governance arrangements meet the needs of the institution. The full implementation of changes to the statutes is likely to take some years.
  • A high resolution image is available for UK press use only, credit: Ian Wallman|Christ Church. 

For more information, please contact

  • Sarah Budzier, Head of Communications, Christ Church – | 07711 388075
  • Steven Buckley, Director of Communications, Diocese of Oxford – | 07824 906839
Page last updated: Monday 20th March 2023 10:41 AM
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