University celebrates its most famous alumnus

Published: 5 February 2013

Two hundred and seventy five years after Adam Smith first joined the University of Glasgow as a fourteen year old student, the "Father of Modern Economics" has had a School at the University named in his honour.

Two hundred and seventy five years after Adam Smith first joined the University of Glasgow as a fourteen-year-old student, the “Father of Modern Economics” has had a School at the University named in his honour.

The renamed Adam Smith Business School was originally established in 1986 and today is the second largest business school in the UK with 110 academics and over 3,600 under- and post-graduate students. The School enjoys a worldwide reputation attracting over 1,600 international students from 54 countries. 

To mark the occasion of the launch, the University will hold a ceremony at 7pm on Wednesday 6 February in the University’s Bute Hall.

Guest of honour will be Michael Russell MSP the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, who will deliver a lecture entitled: “Enlightened Imagination – Scotland’s Contribution to a Better World”.

Mr Russell’s lecture will celebrate the legacy of the Scottish Enlightenment and its continued relevance to Scottish education, finishing on the issue of constitutional change and the opportunities for Scotland.

Adam Smith attended the University of Glasgow as a student between 1737 and 1740, and returned as Professor of Logic in 1751. A year later he became Professor of Moral Philosophy, a post he held until he left academia to become tutor to the Duke of Buccleuch in 1764.

During his tenure at the University, Smith lectured on a wide range of subjects from logic and jurisprudence, history and linguistics to philosophy and ethics.

Today Adam Smith is best known the world over for his economic writings, especially his book The Wealth of Nations, which earned him the title of “Father of Modern Economics”. However Smith first established his reputation at Glasgow as a moral philosopher.

In 1759 he published Theory of Moral Sentiments in which he argued that society is held together by a unified ethical conduct of “mutual sympathy” or empathy. Such was the response to the work that he attracted students to Glasgow from around Europe.

Smith re-established his association with the University of Glasgow in 1787 when he became Rector of the University. In a letter of thanks he described his Glasgow days as “by far the most useful and therefore by far the happiest and most honourable period of my life.”

But it is as a political economist that Adam Smith is best remembered. And Wealth of Nations remains one of the most influential economic texts around the world.


By naming the business school as the Adam Smith Business School, the University hopes to carry on the legacy of Adam Smith by producing interdisciplinary research and holistic thinkers who engage with society and enrich the world.  In particular, the School will place a new emphasis on Smith’s work and, more generally, the Enlightenment. This will include the creation of an Honours course in 2013 - 2014 which focuses on the work of past leading philosophers and economists.  And there will be a regular series of public lectures on Adam Smith to engage with wider society.

Comments Professor Farhad Noorbakhsh, Head of School: “The Adam Smith Business School is committed to celebrating the academic tradition of Adam Smith at the University of Glasgow. Adam Smith is recognised worldwide as one of the most influential figures to emerge from the Scottish Enlightenment and the field of Economics.

“We are delighted to launch the Business School to commemorate the close ties he had with the University. Adam Smith continues to inspire people from all over the world and naming the Business School in his honour is a fitting way to mark his legacy.”

While the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, Michael Russell MSP, adds: “I am convinced that Adam Smith would have been honoured by the naming of the business school and would see this as a development that is worthy of the Scottish Enlightenment. So, I’m delighted to be part of this celebration of the great economist and philosopher, and to mark his contribution not just to the University of Glasgow but to Scotland and the rest of the world.”

The Adam Smith Business School combines world class research and teaching from the following subjects:

  • Accounting & Finance
  • Management
  • Economics

The School is home to research of national and international excellence.  It has over 1,500 postgraduate students studying in 36 master and six PhD programmes.  


Notes for editors:


For more information please contact Cara MacDowall in the University of Glasgow press office on 0141 330 3535 or email



First published: 5 February 2013