Lord Sutherland’s first official duty as prime warden is the opening of the Goldsmiths’ Company’s exhibition ‘Gold: Power and Allure – 4,500 years of gold treasures from across Britain’ at Goldsmiths’ Hall on 31 May.
Lord Sutherland (71) is one of the country’s pre-eminent philosophers of religion and has enjoyed a long and distinguished career in academia. In recognition of his commitment to education, he received a Knighthood in 1994 and was subsequently invested with the Order of the Thistle in 2003.
He was born and grew up in Scotland, and was inspired by two particular teachers during his education. The latter, Ian Forrest, whom he encountered at Robert Gordon’s College, encouraged and fuelled his interest in philosophy, arranging for him to meet an eminent Scottish philosopher, Donald MacKinnon, who held a Chair at Cambridge, and who subsequently became his mentor and a life-long influence.
Having graduated with a first class degree in Philosophy from Aberdeen University, Sutherland joined MacKinnon at Cambridge where he studied for an MA at Corpus Christi College.
A series of distinguished academic appointments followed, including University College of North Wales; the University of Stirling (1968-77); and the Chair of Philosophy of Religion at King’s College London (1977-85), after which he became the College’s principal (1985-1990). He then moved on to the vice-chancellorship of the University of London (1990-94) during which period he also found the time to be the chief inspector of schools and set up Ofsted.
In 1994, the same year he was knighted, Sutherland was invited to become principal and vice-chancellor of Edinburgh University – an offer he could not refuse! Then in 2001 he was elected as one of the first batch of ‘people’s peers’ and he continues to be an active cross-bencher in the House of Lords.
Lord Sutherland’s last official academic appointment was as Provost of Gresham College (2002-2008), but outside of his academic life he has also chaired numerous important government committees relating to education, as well as supporting many health-related organisations.
Lord Sutherland joined the Goldsmiths’ Company in 1987, was elected to the Livery in 1991 and to the Court of Assistants in 2000, and has been a long serving member of the Company’s Education Committee.
Lord Sutherland said: “I am looking forward to my year as prime warden. We live in challenging times, which makes the Company’s educational and charitable initiatives even more pertinent. In addition, the Company’s commitment and responsibility towards its trade and industry remain at its core, as has been demonstrated by the considerable investment in the new Goldsmiths’ Centre, which was officially opened in April. While demanding, this is nonetheless an exciting time to be Prime Warden of such an august and proactive Company.”
Image: Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, prime warden of the Goldsmiths’ Company. By Julia Skupny.