Former Rector Kevin Dunion was awarded an honorary degree during yesterday’s St Andrew’s Day graduation ceremonies.
Kevin, the first and current Information Commissioner, served for three years as Lord Rector until October this year when his successor, the author and former TV executive Alistair Moffat, was elected.
Kevin was the 50th Rector in St Andrews’ history, following in the footsteps of famous figures such as J.M. Barrie, John Cleese and Rudyard Kipling. Kevin joined many other former Rectors by being honoured by the University with an Hon LLD (Doctor of Laws).
Speaking on stage at the Younger Hall following the conferment, Kevin said: “I love graduation. This the last time I will be on this platform, so I’m going to take a long last look round this hall. I see the same things: proud students coming up to be our graduates, proud parents and friends clapping and from time to time a surreptitious dabbing of the eye hasn’t passed my gaze, especially when the choir sung Loch Lomond so beautifully.
“I have no recollection of my own graduation – I scurried across the stage without touching the sides. But I do remember the first time I came into this wonderful Younger Hall. I was a schoolboy at an event for schools who didn’t normally send their pupils to university, far less St Andrews.
“In the course of the week we were brought here at the end, and asked if we would consider applying to St Andrews. The only thought I had was, could I work hard enough to win a place at St Andrews? I didn’t have to think could I afford to go to St Andrews or consider whether I would be able to achieve a career after a degree in history which would allow me to be able to repay debts. Unfortunately that’s no longer the case for those coming now and who will be coming in future.
“I worry about it, as does the University Court, as does every university in the land. If we are to remain in the admirable Scottish idea of the aspiration of the democratic intellect, students must be able to come here because of their intelligence and not be here on their ability to pay.
“St Andrews opened up immense opportunity to me. It is a great honour to be asked to stand and to have won the election to be Rector. I’d like to say thank you very much for this honorary degree I humbly receive and thank you to the wonderful inspirational students and thank all of you for the honour you have done me by allowing me to be your Rector.”