University names new Principal

Thursday 29 June 2000

The University of St Andrews has appointed Dr Brian Lang, formerly Chief Executive and Deputy Chairman of the British Library, to the post of Principal and Vice-Chancellor from January 1st 2001.

Dr Lang succeeds Professor Struther Arnott who retired in December 1999 after 13 years in post.

Dr Lang (54) guided the British Library through one of the most challenging periods in its history following his appointment as Chief Executive in 1991.

He planned and co-ordinated the successful move of the Library from its British Museum site and other satellite locations around London to a new purpose-built home at St Pancras and is credited with re-establishing the institution as the world’s finest research library.

Dr Lang’s appointment as Principal of the University of St Andrews was confirmed at a meeting of the University Court in St Andrews today (Friday June 30th 2000).

Senior Governor of the University, Dr Jean Morris, said: “The University of St Andrews occupies a very significant position within Scottish and UK education and the University Court has every confidence that such a distinguished and pre-eminent figure as Dr Lang will not only maintain but enhance that position.

”We are particularly impressed by his leadership and management skills. He is an extremely charismatic individual and we are confident he will forge strong relationships with University staff, our students and the wider community.”

Dr Lang said: “St Andrews is one of the world’s premier universities and I feel very privileged to have been appointed to lead it. I look forward to playing this central role in higher education and helping to maintain the pre-eminence of universities in Scotland.”

Born in Edinburgh 1945, Dr Lang was educated at the Royal High School and the University of Edinburgh where he studied social anthropology. After conducting anthropological fieldwork in Kenya, he was a Lecturer at Aarhus University, Denmark between 1971 and 1975.

In 1976 he moved to the Social Science Research Council in London as Senior and subsequently Principal Scientific Officer, returning to Scotland three years later to take up post as Head of the Historic Buildings Branch of the Scottish Development Department of the Scottish Office.

In 1980 he was appointed Secretary of the National Heritage Memorial Fund where for seven years he was responsible for Britain’s financial “safety net” for its national heritage, building close relationships with Whitehall and Westminster and defining the Fund’s sphere of influence.

As Director of Public Affairs for the National Trust in London, a post he took up in 1987, Dr Lang implemented a stream of new marketing initiatives for the Trust, attracting 750,000 new members in three years.

He moved to become Chief Executive and Deputy Chairman of the British Library in 1991 where he was to take on the challenge of leading the world’s foremost resource for scholarship, research and innovation through what is acknowledged as the most testing time in its history.

As Library Chief Executive he managed a staff of 2500 people and an annual budget of £120 million. He established new links with universities in support of the research process in higher education and introduced digital technology to the Library to create a new electronic information regime.

He is a past President and Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Information Scientists, an Honorary Fellow of the Library Association, Chairman of the Forum of European National Libraries and a member of the Library and Information Commission.

Dr Lang is a visiting Professor at the Department of Communication and Media at Napier University, Edinburgh, and this summer will be a Visiting Scholar at the Getty Institute, Los Angeles, California.

Dr Lang consistently declared his intention to move on when what he regarded as his main task – the opening of the library’s new building at St Pancras – was complete. St Pancras was officially opened by HM The Queen in June 1997 and the Library in its new building has since been widely hailed as a triumph.


Issued by the University of St Andrews Contacts: Claire Grainger, tel 01334 462530, mobile 07730 415015 Niall Scott, tel 01382 562881, mobile 0411 223062

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