University Medal Award – Miss Lorna EM Walker

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Miss Lorna E M Walker
University Medal

Citation by Professor Lorna Milne
Vice-Principal (Proctor)

The Proctor Professor Lorna Milne, Lorna Walker and the Principal Professor Louise Richardson

Receiving the Principal’s Medal was Lorna Walker (centre) with the Principal Professor Louise Richardson (right) and the Proctor Professor Lorna Milne (left).

Vice-Chancellor, it is my privilege to present Lorna Walker for the University Medal.

Of Scottish and English descent, Lorna Walker was educated at Micklefield School, Cape Town; the Wimbledon High School for Girls; and the University of St Andrews, where her academic excellence won her not only a First in Mediaeval and Modern History in 1953, but also the Miller and Low prizes. From here she secured a Carnegie scholarship in Mediaeval History, and went to the Institute for Historical Research in London to complete a thesis for which she was awarded a Distinction. In 1958 she took up a post at University College London as Goldsmiths’ Research Assistant, combining teaching with work on the records of the Goldsmiths’ Company. Her research and contribution to The Early History of The Goldsmiths’ Company 1327-1509 later led to her being made a Freeman (in 1976) and later a Liveryman (in 1986) of The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths.

Miss Walker was appointed to St Andrews in 1961 on a double contract, the first of its kind, as both a Lecturer (and later Senior Lecturer) in Mediaeval History and Warden of University Hall. She managed these two University posts exceptionally well, and was particularly suited to fulfil the condition of one of the early gifts that helped to found the Hall, that it should be ‘presided over by a cultivated lady who shall be a Warden and not a mere housekeeper’.

Miss Walker approached her academic teaching in the Department of Mediaeval History with meticulous care and great attention to her students’ individual needs. Her research interests ranged widely, with publications including such titles as At the Feet of St Stephen Muret: Henry II and the Order of Grandmont redivivus; Fighting Knights and Sirens: Monreale and the Art of the Cloister; and Culture and Contacts in the Scottish Romanesque. Most recently, her interests have turned to the Order of Savigny, its records and its holy men, on which she has been invited to speak in America, Britain and France, and has in the last few years published articles in English and in French. Miss Walker is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, a member of the Selden Society and of the London Record Society. She is an Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mediaeval History.

While Miss Walker is admired for her scholarship and teaching, it is as the long-serving Warden of University Hall that she is most widely and affectionately known to thousands of former students who lived there between her arrival in 1961 and retirement in 1991. She always showed outstanding dedication to her work as Warden, creating a warm and homely atmosphere for Hall residents and taking a great interest in the welfare of each student. Her students showed their appreciation of her and of Hall by returning in their hundreds from all over the world to celebrate the Centenary of University Hall in 1996. And again earlier this month, at the most recent University Hall reunion, I personally saw her approached again and again by one alumna after another, with expressions of warmth and gratitude. ‘Miss Walker’, I heard one of them say, ‘I want you to know what a difference you made to all of our lives’.

Since retiring as Warden in 1991 and from Mediaeval History in 1994, Miss Walker has continued to involve herself in the wider aspirations of the Hall community by her leading role in the University Hall St Andrews Graduates Association (UHStAGA), which is now in its one hundred and sixteenth year of keeping the spirit of University Hall alive among its alumni. It is largely thanks to her that students from round the world have benefited from the UHStAGA Scholarship: she negotiated with the University the best way to invest the Scholarship funds and chaired the Scholarship Committee for over twenty-five years.

The silverware of University Hall, that graces the High Table on very special occasions, includes a beautiful little quaich, very plain and very delicate. The names of the donors are not inscribed upon it, but it bears some lines by Hilaire Belloc that I know are close to Lorna Walker’s heart and to her philosophy of life for she also quotes these lines in her essay about University Hall. I think they say a great deal about her, her view of teaching, scholarship and collegiality, and all that she brought to her duties as Warden of University Hall, and so I should like to conclude by quoting them here:

From quiet homes and slow beginnings
Out to undiscovered ends,
There’s nothing worth the wear of winning
Save laughter and the love of friends.

Vice-Chancellor, in recognition of her exceptional and dedicated contribution to the University over most of her lifetime, I invite you to present Lorna Walker with the University Medal.

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