After 289 Years, Adam Smith Gets a B-School

Photograph by Hulton Archive

Most business schools are named after prominent alumni who don’t mind paying handsomely for the privilege. But the University of Glasgow is naming its business school after someone who won’t be showing up at any alumni events, at least not in this world: Adam Smith.

The Father of Modern Economics, best known for his treatise The Wealth of Nations, was a student at Glasgow from 1737 to 1740, returning as a professor in 1751. He left academia to become a tutor—to the Duke of Buccleuch—in 1764.  He died 26 years later.

In naming the school after Smith, Glasgow connects the B-school to one of the most instantly recognizable names in economics. But it also gives up, at least temporarily, the possibility of someone else buying the naming rights. At the University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross, founder of the Related Companies, paid $100 million for the B-school naming rights in 2004, and in 2008, David Booth, co-founder of Dimensional Fund Advisors, paid $300 million for the naming rights to the University of Chicago business school.

As part of the renaming, the school says it plans a new emphasis on Smith’s work and on the Scottish Englightenment in general. A new honors course on the work of leading philosophers and economics is planned for 2013-14, and a series of public lectures on Smith is also in the works. A ceremony commemorating the new name, Adam Smith Business School, is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 6 in the university’s Bute Hall.

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