Rectorial installation: Principal’s welcome

Friday 21 February 2003

Chancellor, My Lord Rector, Ladies and Gentlemen – it gives me very great pleasure to welcome you all to this afternoon’s ceremony.

The installation of a Rector of the University of St Andrews is a special occasion. The office as we know it today, of a person elected by the students whose task is to represent them and also to chair the governing body of the University, the Court, is found only in the four so-called “ancient” universities of Scotland. Quite what a modern reviewer of corporate governance would make of this arrangement, a Cadbury, Greenbury or Higgs, is not known but what we do know is that providing a wise and conscientious person is elected to the post of Rector, it works.

I should like to take the opportunity at this stage of including within this flattery, the Rectors of the Universities of Dundee and Edinburgh, Fred Macauley and Robin Harper, who are also with us today.

Sir Clement Freud is wise and we are confident that he will be conscientious. He certainly represents a family whose achievements are considerable, and well known. Many of you will be aware that Sir Clement has already served as Rector in another Scottish university. He was Rector of Dundee University, our close partner across the Tay, from 1974 to 1980, although the office is slightly different in that university.

For another connection with Scotland, I enjoyed reading in his autobiography that when in 1942 Sir Clement reached the age of 18, he was called up to serve his country and was sent to Scotland. He told me not long ago that while he never did serve in a foreign country, his contribution to the war effort was to fight in Glasgow.

Sir Clement Freud already has a varied and fascinating career to his credit, as cook, nightclub owner, broadcaster, writer, Member of Parliament – and forgive me, but I must also mention dogfood advertiser – so we look forward to this next stage of distinction, in St Andrews. At this stage of development for Scotland’s universities, following publication of a review of higher education south of the border that could have very serious implications for us, we will need all the effective advice, assistance and leadership that Sir Clement will be able to give us.

This ceremony is also special because it marks the first public outing for a new mace. We are very proud of our ceremonial maces in St Andrews, which are generally regarded as including the finest mediaeval maces in the world. One or more of those proceed the Chancellor or me, at occasions such as graduations, and university chapel services on Sunday mornings. What we have lacked until today, is a Rector’s mace and I should like to express the University’s substantial appreciation to Mr Donald Wintersgill, who is here with us today, for creating our Rector’s Mace and donating it to the University. The new mace represents the first Rector of St Andrews University, Laurence of Lindores, a monk who was Rector in the early 15th century.

Mr Wintersgill is also a journalist by profession and he has recently published a history of the Rectors of Glasgow University. He is presently working on a history of the Rectors of Edinburgh University and he will then turn to the Rectors of St Andrews. I look forward to his account of this ceremony, and the installation of today’s central character.

Finally, among our other guests today I am particularly pleased to see Lady Freud and I hope, Jill, that you will be a very frequent visitor to St Andrews with your husband.

My Lord Rector, on behalf of the University of St Andrews I welcome you here today, I applaud your election to the office of Rector and look forward to what I know will be your distinguished and successful term of office.

Dr Brian Lang

Principal and Vice-Chancellor

University of St Andrews

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