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Isobel Scott Gibson was born in Glasgow in 1897, the daughter of George A Gibson, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Glasgow. Her father was involved with the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science as a Governor from session 1911/12 until his resignation in December 1925. He was also involved with the Board at Park School in Glasgow, joining in May 1915 and rising to Chairman of the Board of this prestigious girl's school in August 1917. Isobel Gibson also went on to become a member of the Board at Park School and a Director of the School Company.
Isobel Gibson was educated at the Park School, Glasgow, and then studied for a teaching diploma at the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science. In 1917 she left the College to work in the kitchens of the Erskine Hospital for limbless soldiers. She returned to the College 2 years later to complete her teacher training. In 1920 she took a one year course at the King's College of Household and Social Science in London. She returned to Glasgow in 1921 to teach at Park School. In 1927, at the age of 30 years, she entered the University of Glasgow to study for a BSc in Applied Science, specialising in chemistry and physiology.
After graduating in 1930, Isobel Gibson went to work in Edinburgh as a Superintendent of Domestic Subjects with the Education Authority. Promotion followed in 1937 to the general staff of the Scottish Education Department's Inspectorate and in 1944 she was again promoted to the rank of His Majesty's Inspectorate. In January 1947 she took up her new position of Principal at the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science. In June 1951 she was awarded an OBE in recognition of her work.
During her career she helped the College recover from the war and struggle through the period of scarcity and rationing. She encouraged the academic developments of the College and put much work into the establishment of a proper library at Park Drive. She also played an important role within the International Federation of Home Economics, being elected as its president in 1959. She was also a president of the Glasgow branch of the British Federation of University Women. She instigated the new student residences at Dorchester Avenue that were formally opened by the Queen in 1968. The residences were named Gibson Hall in recognition of her vital role.
After her retirement at the end of 1962, Isobel Gibson moved to Edinburgh to live. In May 1993, she died in a nursing home, aged 96 years.
Student: King's College of Household and Social Science, London, England (1921-1922)
Resident: Edinburgh, Scotland (1962-1963)
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Thompson, Willie and McCallum, Carole, ‘Glasgow Caledonian University: its origins and evolution’, (East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 1998).
Downie, Alison "Portrait of a Domestic Scientist: Alison Downie talks to Isobel Gibson”. Glasgow Herald, 21 December 1962.