Development & Alumni Relations Office 

Margaret Brownlie Sutherland, PhD 1955 (died 29 March 2011)

(Obituary by Alison Shaw)

Margaret Sutherland was one of an indefatigable breed of post-war working women who blazed a trail through academia, preparing the way for generations to follow. Recognising that her appointment as a university professor gave her an opportunity to fly the flag for those in her wake, she chose to play a full part in the governance of her university, displaying her collegial spirit and flair for administration through contributions to the senate, extensive committee responsibilities and as chair of the education panel of the Board for Collegiate Academic Awards.

But such multi-tasking was nothing new to the indomitable Miss Sutherland who had already obtained a first in her M. Ed while teaching at various Glasgow secondary schools. The achievement followed her successes at Hutchesons' Girls' Grammar School, where she was Dux in 1938, and at Glasgow University where she graduated with first class honours four years later and received the Herkless prize for the most distinguished woman graduate in arts.

She also went on to become an author and Dean of Faculty as well as being recognised by the French government for her contribution to education with an appointment as Chevalier in the Order of the Palmes Academiques.

Born the eldest of three children, to Post Office supervisor George Sutherland and his wife Janet Robertson, she was a naturally studious youngster and consistently brilliant pupil. When she went to Glasgow University to study French and German she was disappointed to be unable to complete her year abroad when the Second World War intervened. Before leaving France, however, she had befriended a young French woman, who was later killed while working for the resistance. Following the war she kept in touch with her friend's sister, nurturing what proved to be a lifelong friendship.

After training as a teacher and gaining a First in Education and Psychology in 1945, she moved to Queen's University, Belfast as a lecturer in education where her academic development was rapid.  This marked the start of an association with Northern Ireland that was to last for more than 25 years.


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