Ms Catherine Stihler MEP is the University’s 52nd Rector.
Catherine, a graduate of the University - with an MA Hons in Geography & International Relations (1996) and a M.Litt in International Security Studies (1998) - took up office in October 2014. Catherine was officially installed in an historic ceremony at the Younger Hall on Friday 20 February 2015.
First and foremost, the role of the Rector is to preside at meetings of the University Court - the highest governing body of the University.
The Court exists to oversee the mangement of the University, with special emphasis on strategic leadership and accountability. The Principal leads the actual management of the University, but is accountable to the Court, which comprises senior staff and a majority of unpaid, external, independent 'lay' members, meeting about four times a year. This is the place where all the big issues are decided - budget allocations, financial policies, estate development and capital projects, staff and student provisions, and so on.
Since 1858, the Rector has been elected by the students, and the fundamental purpose of the position has remained unchanged ever since. The ancient universities were conceived as communities, in which the students were the main interest group. The best way to ensure that their interests were always at the forefront of the minds of those actually running the university was to allow the students to elect the president of the governing body.
In addition to being President of the University Court, the Rector also plays an informal, pastoral role. The Rector can open doors and help to release log-jams where the formals mechanisms for resolving issues appear to fail. A Rector with the time, sincerity and commitment to get to know the student body and engage with their issues, and the skills to influence effectively, can make a valuable contribution to the student experience, as well as to the life and reputation of the whole university.
For a comprehensive overview of the role of Rector, please see the handbook produced by the Scottish Rectors' Group entitled 'The University Rector'.
The Rector's Assessor
The current Rector's Assessor is Ms Annie Newman.
The Rector's Assessor is a voluntary position, with the main role being to act as the link between the Rector and the student body, to aid and advise the Rector, and to sit on the University Court as a full member. The Assessor meets regularly with the Rector to advise on policy issues, discuss upcoming events and campaigns and ensure the Rector has a coordinated media and web presence in St Andrews.
Ms Catherine Stihler was formally installed as Rector in a ceremony held at the Younger Hall on Friday 20 February 2015, following the traditional student-led 'drag' and torchlight parade to the pier that took place the day previously. After being welcomed to the University in speeches by the Principal & Vice-Chancellor, the Senior Governor of the University Court, and the President of the Students' Association, Ms Stihler delivered her Rectorial Address on the theme of friendship. A selection of images from the drag and installation events can be found below.