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First Minister opens university’s £10m investment

Scotland’s First Minister Jack McConnell officially opened two state-of-the-art buildings at the University of St Andrews today (Friday 18th March 2005). The buildings, home to the University’s School of Management and Computer Science respectively, represent an investment of around £10million by the University.

During the double event, Mr McConnell met with University Principal Dr Brian Lang and Heads of Schools, Professors Peter McKiernan (Management) and Ron Morrison (Computer Science), introduced him to key members of staff and students.

In Management, he met the researchers involved in a national scenario-modelling project, which studies the implications of devolution on the Scottish economy. At Computer Science, he was shown the latest in computing technology, including dancing robots, 3-D facial modelling and morphing and the latest developments in hi-tech electronic voting software.

The two new major teaching and research facilities at The Gateway, the University’s flagship circular building at the entrance to St Andrews, and the Jack Cole Building, the ‘smart’ new home of part of the School of Computer Science, represent significant investment for the University.

At the opening, the University’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Dr Brian Lang said:

“The University of St Andrews is determined to play its part in enhancing the international competitiveness of Scotland’s higher education sector. Creation and transfer of knowledge are more effective if high quality academics are given high quality working conditions. The University’s School of Computer Science is an internationally recognised centre of excellence and its new home reflects that status.

“The Gateway, the new building for the University’s School of Management, will help the University improve the business and management skills of students from Scotland and the increasing number of overseas students who have decided that St Andrews offers a first class higher education. The buildings represent essential investments and signify the University of St Andrews’ confidence in its future.”

Named after the founder of Computer Science at St Andrews, the Jack Cole Building is a £3.1m recently completed two-storey building designed to meet the needs of growing interest in Computer Science, accompanying the existing John Honey Building. It is home to around 18 academic staff and 300 students within the School of Computer Science, which includes world-leading groups in Software Architecture, Distributed Systems and Symmetry and Symbolic Computation. The hi-tech building is innovatively based on ‘smart’ technology, with wireless networks and smart lighting and locks, befitting of the School which pioneered Scotland’s first internet computing degree.

During the visit to the Jack Cole Building, Mr McConnell talked to researchers involved in key research such as facial morphing and modelling and electronic voting systems. Current projects which demonstrate real human interest include the mathematical model behind working out a woman’s ‘biological clock’ age and facial ageing techniques, which could be used to help trace long- term missing persons. On a lighter note, the First Minister met with students, who demonstrated for the first time dancing robots, part of a penultimate year project which they are currently working on.

Meanwhile, the opening of the Gateway Building is a much-awaited affair – the building was bought by the University in 2004 for around £6m after being out-of-use since its erection in 2000. The striking round building with unrivalled views across the world- famous Old Course hotel and the West Sands, is home to the new School of Management. With its bespoke facilities for over 600 students and 25 staff, the school offers some of the best teaching and learning facilities in the UK and within the next 10 years aims to be the best ‘Small Management School in Europe’. The School’s undergraduate and postgraduate courses are internationally-renowned and students represent Scotland and the rest of the UK, as well as a substantial part of the globe including South America, Greece, USA, Canada, Sweden, France, Germany, India and the Middle East.

The School houses four major research centres / units in health economics, public policy and management, evidence-based policy and social and environmental accounting. Other areas of research interest at the School include business ethics, organisational theory, sport economics, credit unions, European banking, mergers, sustainability, organisational culture and trust, scenario planning and strategic foresight.

At the opening, Mr McConnell said:

“St Andrews may be an ancient University, but it is one that is forward looking and willing to meet the challenges of the future head on. Today’s openings are concrete proof of this. In these two new buildings the University has some of the finest teaching, learning and research facilities to be found anywhere in the world. They will enhance St Andrews and they will enrich Scotland.

“I congratulate everyone involved and wish staff and students alike every success for the future.”

ENDS

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews Contact Gayle Cook, Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email gec3@st- andrews.ac.uk Ref: McConnell openings 180305.doc View the latest University press releases at http://www.st- andrews.ac.uk

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