Professor Barry Ife

(Elected 2006)

Appointed Principal of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 2004, Professor Ife had been Vice-Principal at King’s College London since 1997. ‘I taught at Birkbeck for 17 years – the formative part of my career. Birkbeck was my first love, and I still have deep respect for it. When I left at 40, my metabolism was entirely in tune with the College. At King’s people pulled my leg about having a day job!’

After completing his PhD at Birkbeck, Professor Ife remained to lecture in Spanish. He joined King’s in 1987, when he was appointed to the Cervantes Chair of Spanish; he is an international authority on the history and culture of Spain and Spanish America from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, and a leading musicologist. He was awarded the CBE in 2000 for his academic work in Hispanic Studies.

Latterly Professor Ife has been heavily involved in strategic management in higher education institutions: ‘While I was at Birkbeck the then Funding Council changed the funding formula overnight, resulting in the loss of 37.5 per cent of our income. I was on a small working party charged with devising a plan to save the College. We came up with a strategy to increase massively the size of activities, particularly in the postgraduate area. That whole experience made me realise how important Birkbeck was to me personally.’