The Forward Thinking (Academic) Panel
chaired by Chris Ramsey (The King's School, Chester)
to be held in the University of St Andrews Medical School lecture theatre
Liz Smith, MSP
Liz Smith was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2007 as one of three Regional Conservative Members for Mid Scotland and Fife, and she was re-elected in 2011. Having been the Party’s Education Spokesman in the period 2007-13, she is currently the Party Spokesman for Culture, Sport and Young People, with additional responsibilities for policy development within the parliamentary party.
She is an elected member of the Parliament’s corporate body, is Convenor of the Cross Party Committee on Colleges and Universities, and is also Convenor of the Cross Party Sports Committee at Holyrood as a result of her strong commitment to outdoor education and to developing more extra-curricular activities for all young people.
Liz lives at Madderty in South Perthshire. She was educated at George Watson’s College, and holds an Honours Degree in Economics and Politics, and a Diploma in Education from the University of Edinburgh.
She returned to George Watson’s College in 1983 to teach Economics and Modern Studies and, in 1992, became a Fellow Commoner at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge whilst she undertook some academic research in politics. In 1998 she left teaching to work as Political Advisor to Sir Malcolm Rifkind, and between autumn 2001 and autumn 2003 she was Head of the Chairman’s Office in Scottish Conservative Central Office.
Outside politics, Liz is a keen sportswoman with particular interest in cricket and hill-walking. She won seven caps with the Scottish Ladies’ Cricket XI, is the President of the Scottish Women’s Cricket Association, and is an official Munroist on account of her completing all of the 283 peaks in Scotland over 3,000ft. She has also taken part in several mountaineering expeditions to the Alps and Himalayas.
Liz’s other interests include travel, photography, listening to classical music, cooking and writing - joint author of ‘Outdoor Adventures’ published in October 2003, and the history of George Watson’s Ladies’ College published in autumn 2006.
She is currently a governor of George Watson’s College in Edinburgh and of St Mary’s Preparatory School in Melrose.
Professor Paul Boyle, Vice-Chancellor, University of Leicester
Professor Paul Boyle was recently appointed as President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester. Prior to joining the University, Professor Boyle was Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and held the position of International Champion of Research Councils UK with responsibility for international strategy on behalf of all seven research councils. He was also President of Science Europe.
Before joining the ESRC, Professor Boyle was Head of the School of Geography and Geosciences at the University of St Andrews. His research focused on population and health geography. He was also Director of the ESRC-funded Longitudinal Studies Centre Scotland, Co-Director of the ESRC-funded Centre for Population Change, and Co-Investigator on both the Wellcome Trust-funded Scottish Health Informatics Programme, and the ESRC-funded Administrative Data Liaison Service.
Professor Louise Richardson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, University of St Andrews
Louise Richardson is Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. A native of Ireland, she received a BA in History from Trinity College, Dublin, an MA in Political Science from UCLA, and an MA and PhD in Government from Harvard. She was Assistant and Associate Professor in the Harvard Government Department 1989-2001, and served as Head Tutor for several of those years. She was awarded both the Levenson Prize and the Abramson Prize for her commitment to teaching. She served as Executive Dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard 2001-2008 where she was instrumental in its transformation from a women’s college into an interdisciplinary centre promoting scholarship across academic fields and the creative arts.
A political scientist by training, Professor Richardson has specialised in international security with an emphasis on terrorist movements. Her publications include Democracy and Counterterrorism: Lessons from the Past (2007), What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat (2006), The Roots of Terrorism (2006), and When Allies Differ (1996). She has written numerous articles on international terrorism, British foreign and defence policy, security institutions, and international relations. She has served on the editorial boards of a number of journals and presses and been awarded numerous prizes including the Sumner Prize for work towards the prevention of war and the establishment of universal peace. She has lectured on the subject of terrorism and counter-terrorism to public, professional, media and education groups across the world.
In 2009, she received the Trinity College Dublin Alumni Award. In 2010, she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and, in 2011, she was appointed to the Scottish Government’s Council of Economic Advisers, a position she held for three years. In 2012, ahead of the centenary in 2014 of the outbreak of World War One, she was appointed to the Scottish Commemorations Panel. Harvard University awarded Professor Richardson The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Centennial Medal in 2013, and later in the year she received an honorary doctorate from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, MGIMO.
She serves on the boards of a number of non-profit groups, including the Carnegie Corporation, the East-West Institute, and the Booker Prize Foundation.
Mary Curnock Cook, Chief Executive, UCAS
Mary Curnock Cook joined UCAS as Chief Executive in January 2010.
From 2003 – 2009, Mary was Director of Qualifications and Skills at the Qualifications & Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA, formerly QCA) where she led on qualifications policy and development for the 14-19 reform programme covering, amongst other things, GCSEs and A Levels. In addition she had responsibility for the UK Vocational Qualifications Reform Programme.
From 1994 – 2001, she was Chief Executive of BII, the professional body for licensed retailing. Between 1997 and 2001, Mary served as a Council member on the Further Education Funding Council (FEFC). She was a Non-Executive Director of Laurel Pub Company, and Chairman of award-winning e-learning company, Creative Learning Media, both from 2002 - 2005.
Prior to 1994, Mary was Marketing Director of Food from Britain, and International Sales & Marketing Director of International Biochemicals.
Mary lives in West London with her three grown-up children, one of whom is still at university. Mary has an MSc in general management from the London Business School. She was awarded an OBE in the Queen's birthday honours 2000 for services to training in hospitality and tourism. She is a governor at Swindon Academy – a 3-19 school. In addition she is a trustee of the Access Project which supports young people from deprived backgrounds to progress to higher education. She is also a trustee of the National Star Foundation which provides highly specialist care and learning support for young people with complex physical difficulties, emotional, acquired brain injuries and associated sensory difficulties.
James Hanbury, Businessman
James Hanbury co-founded Incisive Media, as a start-up publishing business in 1994, after serving as an Officer in the British Army.
Over 20 years he grew Incisive from start-up to public company, and then took it private with Private Equity backing. At its height, Incisive employed 2,000 staff and had operations in the US, UK and Asia.
In 2013 James handed over the reins at Incisive, and has subsequently taken a number of non-executive and advisory roles. He Is currently the Non-Executive Chairman of Imagine Publishing, and sits on the advisory board of Find Invest Grow, a business that funds and advises start-up businesses.
Last year James joined his 17 year old son in walking 420 miles from Scotland to London in 16 days for charity.
Dr. Alasdair Allan
Alasdair Allan has been an SNP MSP since May 2007 representing the constituency of Na h-Eileanan an Iar.
Alasdair gained a PhD in Scots Language from Aberdeen University in 1998, and before that attended Glasgow University. Prior to becoming an MSP, Alasdair was Senior Media Relations Officer for the Church of Scotland. He regularly wrote Gaelic columns in various newspapers and was named Gaelic journalist of the year in 2006. In addition, he was also the National Secretary of the SNP from 2003 to 2006 before he resigned to contest the Western Isles seat.
Alasdair originally comes from Ashkirk, near Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. He is a fluent speaker of Gaelic.
On 20 May 2011, Dr Allan was appointed as a Scottish Minister. He is currently Minister for Learning , Science and Scotland’s Languages in the Scottish Government.
Outside of politics, Alasdair sings with the Back District Gaelic Choir in Lewis, with whom he competes in the National Mod.