St Andrews honours Michael Palin

Friday 23 June 2017

The University of St Andrews honoured Michael Palin with a Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science during the morning graduation ceremony today, Friday 23 June.

Dr Michael Palin being awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science

In the laureation address, Professor William Austin said of Palin:

“In his inimitable, understated fashion, he has gently, yet persuasively, educated and inspired millions about nature and culture and the interactions between them around the world.”

Read the full text of Professor Austin’s laureation address.

Dr Michael Palin responded by addressing the new graduates, saying:

“I hope that sitting amongst you today will be the next generation of travellers and adventurers.”

Dr Palin’s full response to the address can also be read online.

Earlier in the day, Mr Palin took advantage of some quiet time by taking part in a quickfire round of interviews in the King James Library with STV (on at 13mins), the Press Association and student newspaper, The Saint.

For half an hour he was quizzed on everything from his Bucket List to Brexit, but most especially what the St Andrews honour meant to him. He said, “It’s a huge honour which means more to me than most, because I always thought I was hopeless at science at school, although I always interested in science. For someone to notice that geography is a science and to award me, makes me feel that my work is worthwhile. I’m absolutely delighted. It feels great, I’m very proud to be honoured. I’m up there with the greats.”

He revealed that this was his second trip to St Andrews, having visited once in the 1970’s to do a ‘small entertainment’ with his fellow Pythons when John Cleese was Rector. “I always come back to Scotland one way or another. There is always some other reason to come up,” he added. When asked about St Andrews’ links with fellow Pythons (he’s the third to be honoured with degrees by the University), he said, “The Pythons have a special relationship with Scotland. It’s interesting they’ve honoured us all. Shows it’s not a stuffy university!”

Dr Michael Palin with student ambassadors

When asked what advice he would give to students graduating today, he said, “Keep your head down, remember what you can do. Don’t be frightened by the world outside. Remember what you’ve got. It’s not the end of your education, education goes on throughout your life. Follow your instincts as much as possible. Go with the most difficult option. Something that scares you is quite good. Discover where those talents are.”

A renowned diarist, he also gave students advice on keeping a diary in the video below.

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