Mike Smith, 1945-2011

October 27, 2011

A "hugely respected" academic administrator with a pan-European outlook has died.

Mike Smith was born in London on 16 February 1945 and educated at the University of Cambridge and the London School of Economics. His postgraduate studies in Russian history set the mould for the early phase of his career - he held a Harkness Fellowship for research in Soviet affairs at Stanford University, California, and Columbia University, New York. He returned to the UK as a Fellow of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he taught for five years.

At this point, however, Professor Smith's interests shifted towards broader issues of European history and politics, and particularly the processes of European integration.

He became senior lecturer, and then head of the department of European studies, at the University of Hull and, in 1993, was appointed founding director at the Institute of European Studies at Queen's University Belfast.

Two years later, he was awarded a personal Jean Monnet Chair - as professor of European studies - by the European Universities Council.

His extensive research on Europe fed into Professor Smith's many articles and books.

It also led to work as an adviser to the Northern Ireland Assembly and the European Commission, and to visiting academic posts in the Netherlands and at the Central European University in Prague and Budapest.

In 2003, Professor Smith moved to Glasgow Caledonian University as dean of law and social sciences, and was promoted to vice-principal and pro vice-chancellor (strategy) the following year, where he steered the staff to significant success in the 2008 research assessment exercise.

For Pamela Gillies, principal and vice-chancellor of Glasgow Caledonian, Professor Smith was "a gentle, charming, warm and humorous man with a brilliant mind" and "a hugely respected figure in the academic community", who was "greatly admired for his ability to think strategically and to deliver creative solutions to complex problems by marshalling diverse views in a thoughtful collegial way.

"He was passionate about the arts and generous in supporting all talented students, especially those at the Glasgow School of Art Degree Show who were lavish and bold with paint," she added.

Professor Smith died after a heart attack on 1 October and is survived by his wife, Lesley Milne, and two sons, Robin and Duncan.


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