Professor Christopher Smith has been selected as the Government's preferred candidate to be the new Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), replacing Professor Andrew Thompson in September.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: "I am thrilled that Professor Christopher Smith has been selected as the preferred candidate for the Arts and Humanities Research Council. He is an acclaimed historian with a wealth of experience, which will be invaluable in bringing together arts, humanities and the creative industries at this exceptional time, while supporting the government's ambitions to strengthen research and development across the UK. I would also like to thank Professor Andrew Thompson for his dedicated leadership and the enormous contribution he has made to AHRC."
Professor Smith is currently Professor of Ancient History at the University of St Andrews and was formerly Director of the British School at Rome.
Professor Christopher Smith said: "Arts, humanities and the creative industries bring communities together, and forge a deeper understanding of ourselves. AHRC and UKRI support the UK's global excellence in research, and the exciting thinkers and innovators who will help us build a better future. I am honoured to be the Government's preferred candidate."
Sir Mark Walport, UKRI CEO, said: "Professor Christopher Smith is a distinguished historian who will be an outstanding leader of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. I am delighted he has been selected as the Government's preferred candidate for the role of AHRC Executive Chair. He succeeds Professor Andrew Thompson, who I thank for leading the Arts and Humanities Research Council with great effectiveness and distinction."
The post of AHRC Executive Chair is potentially subject to a pre-appointment hearing by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee.
Professor Christopher Smith (54) is Professor of Ancient History at the University of St Andrews where he was also Dean of Arts (2002-2006), Provost of St Leonard's College and Dean of Graduate Studies (2006-2009), and Proctor and Vice-Principal (2007-2009), before being seconded as Director of the British School at Rome, the UK's leading humanities and creative arts research institute overseas, from 2009 to 2017.
From 2017 to 2020 he has held a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship on The Roman Kings: A Study in Power and held visiting positions in Erfurt, Princeton, Otago, Pavia, Milan, Siena, Aarhus and Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne.
Professor Smith research explores constitutionalism and state formation with particular emphasis on the development of Rome as a political and social community, and how this was represented in ancient historical writing and subsequent political thought. He is the author or editor of over 20 books and in 2017 he was awarded the prestigious Premio "Cultori di Roma." He is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries Scotland, the Royal Historical Society, the Society of Antiquaries of London, the Royal Society of Arts and a Member of the Academia Europaea.