Rector of the University of Dundee
The Rector of the University of Dundee is elected by the matriculated students of the University. From 1967 (when the University gained independence from the University of St. Andrews) to 2010 the Rector was automatically a full member of the University Court (the University Governing body). The Rector also had the right to appoint an Assessor, who was also a full member of the University Court. Following changes made to the University Charter in August 2010, the Rector must choose to either take up full membership of Court or appoint an Assessor who has full voting rights. If the Rector chooses not take up full membership of Court, he retains the right to receive Court papers and attend its meetings but not to vote. The present holder of the position is Brian Cox, CBE. Brian Cox has chosen not to take up full membership of Court, and his Assesor, Bernadette Malone, CBE, therefore has full voting rights on Court.
Aside from his official duties to the university, the Rector is charged with the responsibility of representing the students of the University who elect him for a three year term. The Rector is officially installed in a ceremony soon after his election by the University's Chancellor or, in his place, the Vice-Chancellor.
- 1 History
- 2 Current status
- 3 Election and installation
- 4 List of Rectors
- 4.1 1968 - Peter Ustinov
- 4.2 1974 - Clement Freud
- 4.3 1980 - Lord Mackie of Benshie
- 4.4 1983 - Gordon Wilson, MP
- 4.5 1986 - Malcolm Bruce, MP
- 4.6 1989 - Paul Henderson Scott
- 4.7 1992 - Stephen Fry
- 4.8 1998 - Tony Slattery
- 4.9 2001 - Fred MacAulay
- 4.10 2004 - Lorraine Kelly
- 4.11 2007 - Craig Murray
- 4.12 2010 - Brian Cox
- 5 Archives
- 6 References
The position of Rector in the ancient universities of Scotland dates back centuries and is one of the oldest offices in academic governance in Scotland. To this day, it only exists in the ancient universities of Scotland and at Dundee, which inherited some of the traditions and governance structure from the University of St Andrews.
The modern Rectorship evolved and was given legal status under the Universities (Scotland) Act 1889. Prior to 1967, the University of Dundee was an integral college of the University of St Andrews and styled as Queen's College, Dundee, or University College, Dundee. The Rector of the University represented students at all the constituent colleges of St Andrews, including Queens College, Dundee. Therefore before its independence, the Rector of the University of St Andrews was Rector and the appropriate official for covering what was to become the University of Dundee.
On gaining independent university status in 1967, the position of Rector of the University of Dundee was created under Article 5 of the university's Royal Charter which states:
- "There shall be a Rector of the University who shall be elected by the matriculated students of the University in such manner and for such period as may be prescribed by the Statutes."
Since 1967, there have been twelve Rectors of the University of Dundee, three of which have served two consecutive terms. Notable is the legend of unconfirmed certainty that a hamster was once nominated for the post. Its acceptance of the nomination was allegedly made with an ink-paw print, which was not permitted by the University on the grounds that true consent could not be assured and duress may have been involved. This legend may be based on the confirmed story of a goat named Mervyn who was nominated for the position in 1971, but rejected by the returning officer. Due to a dispute over the validity of the 1971 election result, an unofficial second poll was organised by the Students' Association, and Mervyn was permitted to stand in this. Although Mervyn did not win he beat Paul Foot for third place.
As mentioned above, the position exists in common throughout the ancient universities of Scotland with Rectorships at the Universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and St Andrews. Together the Rectors combine to form the Scottish Rectors Group.
Rectors also appoint a Rector's Assessor, who may carry out their functions when they are absent from the University. In many cases, such as the terms of Lorraine Kelly or Tony Slattery, the relevant Assessor carried out the majority of the Rector's functions - both only rarely attended court meetings in person, although Kelly was notable for participation in many fund raising and charitable activities connected with the University.
Election and installation
Rectors are nominated by the gathering of fifty signatures by students. Close to the Rectorial Election, the Students' Association traditionally hosts a hustings debate, known as the Hecklings, in which all nominees get a chance to put forward their case. The nominees also traditionally make an appearance on the university campus during the election day to canvass for last minute support, assisted by a campaign team of students. The election is organised by a member of the Senatus Academicus, usually the Academic Secretary.
If an election is tied between two candidates, then the Chancellor has the deciding vote on the matter. Neither staff members at Dundee nor students matriculated at any university are eligible to stand The election is always held in either January or February if the election is not precipitated by a resignation during the Rector's term of office, and on a day appointed by the Senatus Academicus in consultation with the Students' Association.
The installation is usually held two or three months following the election. In the past the ceremony was held in the Caird Hall in the City Centre, however, recent ceremonies have been held in the University's own Bonar Hall - the last ceremony was expected to take place in the smaller Ustinov Room of the Bonar Hall, but had to be changed at the last minute to a lecture theatre in the new teaching block as a result of unexpected demand. The installation itself is made by the Chancellor (or Vice-Chancellor if unavailable) with the formal introduction of the Rector to the students being made by the President of the Students' Association. Following a meeting with the Lord Provost of Dundee, the Rector will be 'dragged' in the University's carriage from the City Chambers to the University by one of the sports teams in a parade, often stopping off at public houses along the way for refreshments.
List of Rectors
1968 - Peter Ustinov
Served two terms
Installation: 16 October 1968
Peter Ustinov - actor, writer, dramatist, diplomat and raconteur. Ustinov (who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1990) was the first Rector of the newly independent University. Peter Freiherr von Ustinov (as he was fully styled at the time) was first elected in February 1968 after a vigorous and colourful campaign. He received 489 votes, against James Cameron's 303, Prof. C.N. Parkinson, 288, The Rev. D.C. Caskie, 272, and David Steel, MP, 183. The turnout was high, with 1535 students voting out of an electorate of approximately 2100 students. Freiherr von Ustinov appointed Brigadier F.A. Hibberd, CBE, TD, DL, as his assessor. In the February 1971 Rectorial Election, Ustinov narrowly defeated Michael Parkinson, the broadcaster, by 8 votes. He is remembered fondly at Dundee, his name having been given to a significant room in the University's Bonar Hall. which houses a sculpture of him. Peter Ustinov was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degree by the University in 1969 - the only Rector to have received this honour during his term of office.
1974 - Clement Freud
Served two terms.
Installation: 25 October 1974
Was later elected Rector of the University of St Andrews.
1980 - Lord Mackie of Benshie
The Baron Mackie of Benshie is a Liberal Democrat peer and former MP for Caithness and Sutherland. Lord Mackie of Benshie was elected in 1980 after the favourite to succeed Clement Freud, the Conservative politician Teddy Taylor, withdrew from the race at the last minute.
1983 - Gordon Wilson, MP
Gordon Wilson was the Member of Parliament for Dundee East (1974 to 1987) and leader of the Scottish National Party at the time. Wilson was outspoken against government education cuts of the time. Gordon Wilson was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degree by the University in 1986.
1986 - Malcolm Bruce, MP
1989 - Paul Henderson Scott
Paul Henderson Scott is a Scottish cultural and historical commentator and a veteran S.N.P. member.
1992 - Stephen Fry
Served two terms.
Installation: 29 October 1992; 1 November 1995
Stephen Fry - comedian, author, actor and filmmaker. His Rectorial Address was entitled "Think of a lobster" and urged students to delay obsession with the mundane. In standing for election, he apparently declined a similar offer of nomination (made before Dundee's) from the students of the University of St Andrews.
He is fondly remembered by the University, with the main bar in the Students' Association building named after his novel The Liar and is often considered one of Dundee's best Rectors. Stephen was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degree by the University in 1995.
1998 - Tony Slattery
Tony Slattery - actor and comedian. He was installed as Rector shortly after the death of his father and following a well publicised period of mental health problems, which went on to challenge his Rectorship. He found some of the demands of public events difficult to handle and eventually stopped attending the University Court meetings.
The tabloids famously carried a story about him crashing his car whilst under the influence of drugs. His explanation, to a room full of students in The Tav Bar (now closed) in Hawkhill, revolved around a cat and some chemical fumes. This led to calls for his resignation.
He appointed Jason Wassell as Rector's Assessor who, in Tony's absence from Dundee, became his spokesperson on a number of University issues.
2001 - Fred MacAulay
Stood against television presenter Richard Whiteley, Conservative Member of the Scottish Parliament Nick Johnston and Stirling University lecturer Professor Abd al-Fattah El-Awaisi. David Hasselhoff was forced to decline his nomination as he could only commit to visiting the university once a year. Fred was a popular, positive and supportive rector who has continued to take a personal interest in the university. Fred was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degree by the University in 2005.
2004 - Lorraine Kelly
Election: 27 February 2004
Installation: 28 April 2004
Lorraine Kelly - East Kilbride-born television presenter. Beat Lesley Riddoch and David Shayler to the post. Lorraine Kelly was awarded honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degree by the University in 2008.
2007 - Craig Murray
Election: 16 February 2007
Installation: 26 September 2007 
Craig Murray - former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, graduate of the university and twice President of the Students' Association at Dundee. He resigned as an ambassador over differences with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office relating to the use of torture and extraordinary rendition in Uzbekistan. Murray was elected by students on 16 February 2007 by a vote of 632 to 582, beating competition from former Scotland rugby captain and British and Irish Lions star Andy Nicol.
The Rectorial Installation of Craig Murray took place on the 26 September 2007 in the new Heathfield teaching building. In his Address, the new Rector discussed the structure of education in Scotland, creating a university environment better adapted to the needs of undergraduates and the status of ancient university government, including a commitment to campaign for the incorporation of the position of Rector at all universities in Scotland.
The University Senate refused Murray the customary honorary degree awarded to Rectors on the grounds that he was not a distinguished individual. Murray wrote on his blog how hurt he was by this decision.
2010 - Brian Cox
Election: 12 February 2010
Informal Installation in Student Union: 25 October 2010 Formal Installation at Caird Hall: 17 November 2010
Brian Cox, CBE, a Dundee-born Hollywood actor and member of the Royal Shakespeare Company who also helped to support a fundraising campaign for the University's £21million Sir James Black Centre. Cox beat Robin Harper, Green Member of the Scottish Parliament for the Lothians, and Nikolai Zhelev, a Professor at the University of Abertay Dundee and the Bulgarian Honorary Consul to Dundee. Cox received 1034 votes to Harper's 315 and Zhelev's 273.
Brian Cox was re-elected unopposed in 2013.
Brian Cox was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D) degree by the University in 1993.
- Published on Monday 19 January 2004 00:00 (2004-01-19). "The Scotsman". Thescotsman.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- "Rectorial elections". Archives, Records and Artefacts at the University of Dundee. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- Baxter, Kenneth, et al (2007). A Dundee Celebration. Dundee: University of Dundee. p. 32.
- "Scottish Rectors' Group - Home". Scottishrectors.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- s.4(4)(b) Statutes of the University of Dundee
- s.4(1), Ibid
- s.4(2), Ibid.
- s.4(5)(b), Ibid
- Student Representative Council Diary 1969-70
- "University of Dundee : External Relations : Press Office". Dundee.ac.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- Photograph of Lord Mackie of Benshie, Rector 1980
- Photograph of Gordon Wilson M.P., for Dundee East and chairman of the Scottish National Party. Elected rector of Dundee
- "Liberal Democrats : People". Libdems.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- Published on Wednesday 16 October 2002 01:00 (2002-10-16). "The Scotsman". Thescotsman.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- "Baywatch star sinks student hopes". BBC News. 1 February 2001.
- "University of Dundee : External Relations : Press Office". Dundee.ac.uk. 2004-03-01. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- "University of Dundee : External Relations : Press Office". Dundee.ac.uk. 2004-04-28. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- Craig Murray - Dundee University - neither Green nor Caring[dead link]
- "Taking you to the heart of Tayside and Fife". The Courier. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- "Actor chosen as university rector". Thecourier.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- "Ms 315 Gordon Wilson, MP for Dundee East and Chairman of the Scottish National Party". Archive Services Online Catalogue. University of Dundee. Retrieved 22 November 2011.
- "RU 293 Papers relating to the Rectors of the University of Dundee". Archive Services Online Catalogue. University of Dundee. Retrieved 28 August 2012.