Businesswoman is first black person to lead an Oxbridge college

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A businesswoman is set to become the first black person to lead an Oxbridge college after she was elected Master of Jesus College, Cambridge.

Sonita Alleyne will also be the first female head in the history of the college, which was founded in 1496.

The 51-year-old entrepreneur, who has previously served as a BBC trustee and is currently chairwoman of the British Board of Film Classification, described her election as “an honour”.

“I left Cambridge 30 years ago, but it never left me. I am delighted to be returning,” she said.

“It is an honour to be elected to lead Jesus College and I’m looking forward to becoming part of such an energetic and innovative community.

“Having met many Fellows, students and staff in recent weeks, I was struck by the positive and forward-looking ethos shared across the College.

“In addition to the outstanding education, the cross-disciplinary work and evident passion for arts, culture and sport I have seen at Jesus is impressive.”

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When she takes up the role from 1 October, Ms Alleyne will become the college’s 42nd master on its 40th anniversary of co-education, taking over from Professor Ian White.

Professor Mary Laven, who led the college’s search committee, said they were “thrilled” at the prospect.

“She brings to the college a wealth of experience and an enduring commitment to helping young people fulfil their potential.”

Ms Alleyne was brought up in east London and studied at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, before starting a career in radio, including founding the production company Somethin’ Else, which she led as chief executive from 1991 until 2009.

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