Gilbert Slater, born in Plymouth in 1864, was an English economist and social reformer of the early 20th Century. He studied Economics and worked as a Professor, completing his PhD at the London School of Economics in 1905.
He was a member of the Labour Party and was Chairman, Vice-Chairman, or Secretary of many local committees connected with unemployment. In 1909 he was appointed the principal of Ruskin, and later went on to serve as Professor of Indian Economics at the University of Madras, initiating key rural developments in the country.
Gilbert joined Ruskin at a difficult time in its early history. He was appointed to replace Dennis Hird and quickly made structural changes that sought to ‘democratise’ the College. Under his leadership the College settled down and flourished: in 1910 the Oxford University Diploma in Economics and Political Science was opened up to Ruskin candidates; he changed the constitution to ensure that the majority of the Governing Body’s members were representative of working class organisations; the Ruskin Fellowship was formed in 1911; the new buildings in Walton Street were opened in 1913.
His tenure collided with the outbreak of the First World War,
when the college had to shut, compelling him to seek new employment.