The University of St Andrews paid tribute last night (Wednesday 11 September) to the Principal credited with shaping the 600 year old institution into one of the best in the country.
Former colleagues, friends and family, gathered at a thanksgiving service for Professor Struther Arnott in St Salvator’s Chapel. Professor Arnott, who served as Principal from 1986 to 1999, died at his home in Doncaster in April, aged 78.
Readings were given at a moving service by Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson, Professor Alan Paterson, Professor Robert Crawford, Dr Eric Motley, University Chaplain Donald MacEwan and Professor Arnott’s widow Greta.
Tributes were led by former colleagues Professors John Haldane, Garry Taylor and Colin Vincent, who credited the University’s current high standing in domestic and international league tables to a renaissance in St Andrews first started by Professor Arnott in the 1980’s.
During his tribute, Professor Vincent described how Professor Arnott turned the University from a ‘dispirited inward-looking arts-biased university’ into one which matched his formidable vision and drive. He said that the former Principal ensured that St Andrews was ‘not just Scottish’, but cosmopolitan in nature, by travelling the globe to convince world-class researchers to move to Fife.
He also noted that Professor Arnott was ahead of his time in matters of Equal Opportunities, in particular in relation to supporting women in academia.
Professor Arnott was an accomplished biophysicist whose expertise in the structure of DNA defined the parameters of the structure still used today.
Appointed Principal of St Andrews in 1986, those who met and worked with him remember an individual ahead of his time. He realised, before anyone else, that St Andrews faced a stark choice: become excellent in science or get out of it altogether.
In a tribute to her predecessor at the time of his death, Professor Richardson described Professor Arnott as ‘an intellectual giant whose decisive and robust style of management laid the foundations for what has become a world-renowned science faculty in St Andrews.’
Professor Richardson said, “His strategy, which continues to shape the University today, was to invest in excellence, and to disinvest in mediocrity. It was his vision, his eye for talent and his drive which helped lift St Andrews to prominence in the sciences to match its strengths in the arts.
“His legacy is a University which has in recent years performed consistently strongly in the top reaches of the major domestic league tables and whose science faculty commands international respect. His effect is still seen today in the quality of our staff, their publications, patents, ideas and St Andrews’ recognition as a research intensive university.”
Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
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Ref: Arnott thanksgiving 120913