Students decide on new name for ‘New Hall’

Tuesday 17 April 2012

Students at the University of St Andrews have voted to name their biggest hall after the University’s first female graduate.

New Hall, which opened in 1993, will now be named after Agnes Forbes Blackadder, who first made her mark on the University’s history when she graduated 117 years ago.

The official renaming, which co-incides with the University’s 600th anniversary, will finally give New Hall a permanent title, 19 years after it opened.

Students were given the final vote from a shortlist of five released last week: abstract artist and honorary graduate Wilhemina Barns-Graham; biology professor and town planner Sir Patrick Geddes, former St Andrews Principal and inventor Sir David Brewster, golfing great Seve Ballesteros and Agnes Forbes Blackadder.

Agnes Forbes Blackadder was the clear winner, beating off the four other candidates shortlisted with 42% of the vote.

Hall Warden Rob Warren commented, “The University is proud to be associated with many great historic figures and it was a real challenge to shortlist the nominations down to five people who share important connections with St Andrews. Agnes Forbes Blackadder was a truly inspirational figure who trailblazed the way for women in Higher Education.

“She won by a clear majority and now has the distinction of being not just our first female graduate, but the first woman to have a University building named after her. It is a very fitting tribute to her in our 600th anniversary period.”

Agnes Forbes Blackadder (1875-1964) graduated with an MA on 29 March 1895. She went on to achieve great eminence through a distinguished medical career as a consultant dermatologist in London. She was one of the first women to be appointed in such a capacity in a hospital which was not exclusively for women.

She published papers on the forcible feeding of suffrage prisoners on hunger strike and also played a central role as radiographer in the Scottish Women’s Hospital at Royaumont, France, during the 1914-1918 War.

Students living in the Hall – on the North Haugh, St Andrews – came up with the idea of renaming their home as a way of marking the University’s 600th anniversary celebrations. They invited nominations for a new, permanent name from staff, students and members of the local community.

New Hall, the largest hall of residence building in the University of St Andrews, housing over 550 Undergraduate and Postgraduate students, was initially given its name as a temporary measure at the time of its opening.

Nominations came from students and staff at the University, alumni and from others who have associations with the University around the world. Following a difficult shortlisting process, current students who live or have lived in New Hall were given the final vote last week.

The renaming of the Hall co-incides with a transitional period for the hall in which it will undergo a range of interior makeovers and the switch from catered to self-catered accommodation.

New Hall Senior Student Matthew Harrison said, “I want to thank the New Hall populace, old and new, for turning out and voting. New Hall is a very endearing name, but nonetheless, it is a name that was meant to change years ago.

“The name that has been chosen, Agnes Forbes Blackadder Hall, is timely. Voters clearly wanted to show that St Andrews is a place where women and men are treated as absolute equals. The achievements of Agnes Blackadder were astounding and it is good that we will now have a University Hall named after a woman, 600 years after the University’s founding.

“Of course, Agnes Forbes Blackadder will always remain New Hall to some, but I am happy at the thought of prospective students, no longer asking with confused faces, as to why the Hall is described as ‘new’.”

There were 363 votes cast in total, with the following outcome:

  • Spoilt papers: 5 or 1% of the vote
  • Sir Patrick Geddes Hall: 27 or 7% of the vote
  • Wilhemina Barns-Graham Hall: 33 or 9% of the vote
  • Sir David Brewster Hall: 49 or 14% of the vote
  • Seve Ballesteros Hall: 98 or 27% of the vote
  • Agnes Forbes Blackadder Hall: 151 or 42% of the vote


Notes to Editors

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Niall Scott, Director of Corporate Communications on 01334 462244/2530, 0771 122 3062 or email [email protected]
Ref: (blackadder 170412)
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