‘Forward-looking’ Pembroke College appoints new Master

Tonicha Upham 19 January 2015

In early December, Pembroke College announced the appointment of its new Master ahead of the retirement this summer of outgoing Master, Sir Richard Dearlove. Lord Smith of Finsbury is due to take up the Mastership of the college in October of this year.

Chris Smith, who will be the 54th Master of Pembroke College, is a former student of the College and has been an Honorary Fellow since 2004. Between 1983 and 2005, he served as MP for Islington South and Finsbury. In 1984 Smith made history by being the first British MP to openly admit he was gay. For this and his disclosure in 2005 of the fact that he was HIV Positive, first year Pembroke student Alex Kirkpatrick feels that the new Master is both a "brave figure" and "a great role model".

Lord Smith has also made extensive contributions to the arts, having been the first Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport between 1997 and 2001. He can be credited with the reintroduction of free admission to many of Britain's museums and galleries. Smith has also spent time as the Chairman of the Environment Agency, reaching the headlines for his agency's handling of the Somerset floods and their prevention.

Since 2005 Smith has held a life peerage, sitting in the House of Lords as an independent peer.

Speaking about his election as Master of Pembroke, Smith said: "I love Pembroke. I have held it a privilege to have maintained my connection with the College through the years, and I am honoured to have been asked to lead the College community as Master.
"I look forward to helping our Fellows, students and staff build on the successes of recent years at a period of real opportunity and significant challenges for Pembroke and Cambridge."

Students, too, have reacted positively to news of Smith's appointment. Will Popplewell and Archie Wood, President and Vice President of Pembroke's JPC, commented: "We are excited to welcome Chris Smith to Pembroke, and we feel his appointment reinforces that Pembroke is a forward-looking college. When we met the Lord Smith of Finsbury he expressed interest in integrating into the College community and working closely with the Junior Parlour, which we greatly appreciate."