Baroness Elizabeth Smith of Gilmorehill

(Elected 2002)

Baroness Elizabeth Smith of Gilmorehill took over from Lord Healy as Birkbeck’s President in 1998, a position she held until 2001. The widow of Labour Party leader, John Smith, she leads the John Smith Fellowship Trust, established in 1996. This Fellowship finances 20 young professionals from Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova to come to Britain for six weeks to study the principles of democracy and good government.

Born in 1940, Baroness Smith was educated at Hutchensons’ Girls’ School, Glasgow. She taught French in her early career and received an honorary doctorate in law in 1998 from her alma mater, University of Glasgow.

Among her varied roles, Baroness Smith sat on the council of the British Heart Foundation (1995–1998) and is on the BP Advisory Board for Scotland. Baroness Smith served on the Press Complaints Commission (1996–2002), and is currently on the PCC’s Appointments Commission.

In the world of arts, Baroness Smith was a board member of the Edinburgh International Festival (1996–1999), and is currently chair of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and President of Scottish Opera.

‘I am very pleased to become a Fellow of Birkbeck,’ she says. ‘I wish the College continued success in its mission to provide high-quality teaching for mature students in an environment of research excellence.’