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St Andrews in the News

May 2012

Welcome to the May issue of St Andrews in the News, our regular e-newsletter for alumni, friends and supporters around the world.


NB. Please click on the feature heading for full details.


Sean Connery Tells the Story of St Andrews

Sir Sean Connery makes a return to the silver screen in a film charting the history of Scotland’s oldest university. On Wednesday 16 May, 2012 Sir Sean Connery, film director Murray Grigor OBE, and Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University Professor Louise Richardson will be in New York for the US premiere of ‘Ever to Excel’ – the first-ever cinematic account of the foundation and development of Scotland’s first university.

It will be followed by a showing in Los Angeles on 19 May, a Scottish Premiere in St Andrews for students and staff on 24 May, and an Edinburgh screening in the Dominion Cinema on 14 June.

Tickets for the US film screenings are available by emailing

Tickets for the Edinburgh screening are available here.

Staff and students can apply for tickets for the St Andrews screening here – on a first-come, first-served basis.


League table

St Andrews is ranked top in Scotland and 6th in the UK, according to the Complete University Guide 2013.

St Andrews Prize

An innovative project, which employs 32 non-literate Maasai warriors in Kenya as community conservationists and field biologists, has won this year’s prestigious St Andrews Prize for the Environment.


Guardbridge development

The University is to move ahead with plans to establish a Green Energy Centre and a Knowledge Exchange Centre for spin-out companies, new business and prototype testing on the site of the former Curtis Fine Papers Mill at Guardbridge. The plans represent a proposed investment of over £25 million in Guardbridge and could see 100 jobs created or moved to the Fife village.


Chief Scientific Adviser

Professor Ian Boyd has been appointed by Defra (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) to be its new Chief Scientific Adviser. Professor Boyd, who is the current Director of the Scottish Oceans Institute and the Sea Mammal Research Unit, will join Defra on a three-year contract.


New name for New Hall

University students have voted to name their biggest hall of residence after the University’s first female graduate. New Hall, which opened in 1993, will now be named after Agnes Forbes Blackadder, who first made her mark on the University’s history when she graduated 117 years ago.

University sporting excellence

University Chancellor and former Olympian Sir Menzies Campbell has been speaking on the importance of university sport and its links with the local community.


Green grant

A bid to turn St Andrews into one of the greenest communities in the UK has won a £347,770 grant from the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund. The University’s environmental awareness project, Transition, in conjunction with the community’s St Andrews Environmental Network, plan to work together to reduce carbon emissions and foster greener behaviour across the town and the university.

Satisfied Scots

Young people in Scotland are more satisfied with life than many of their counterparts in Europe, according to a major new study into inequalities in health, conducted by researchers at St Andrews.

Medical honour

Professor James H Naismith, Professor of Chemical Biology, has been elected a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in recognition of his outstanding contribution to medical science.


Composer in residence

Composer Mark David Boden, who won the 600th Anniversary composition competition run by the University last year, has been appointed as Composer in Residence for the University of St Andrews Symphony Orchestra, the first student orchestra in the UK to host such a position.

Light technology award

World-leading experts at St Andrews have been awarded a £5.6m grant to develop new light technologies which could improve diagnosis and treatment of diseases by being able to see into the human body in more depth and detail than ever before.


Dirty books

For the first time a new scientific technique has allowed us into the minds and motivations of mediaeval people – through their dirty books. A new technique invented by Dr Kathryn Rudy, lecturer in the School of Art History, can measure which pages in mediaeval manuscripts are the dirtiest, and therefore, the most read.


Olympic blog

Dr Jason König of the School of Classics has launched a new blog, 'Ancient and Modern Olympics'. It will run for the next six months or so, over the period of the London Olympics, with weekly updates. It offers among other things translations of texts related to the ancient Olympics festival and ancient Greek athletics generally, with a particular focus on texts which have something to tell us about the connections and the gaps between ancient and modern sport.


Dinosaurs fan the wind of change

Research by Professor Graeme Ruxton of the School of Biology and Dr Dave Wilkinson from Liverpool John Moores University has suggested that dinosaur flatulence could have put enough methane into the atmosphere to cause global warming during the Mesozoic era.

Carved in stone

A stone inscribed with the Scots translation of Greek Poet Simonides' work has been presented to the University by Historic Scotland. It was created as part of a BBC Radio programme linked to Professor Robert Crawford’s translations of the ancient epitaphs for western soldiers killed in conflicts 2,500 years ago in the territories of modern Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.



Mayhem in May

On a quiet afternoon in May one of the precious exhibits of the Bell Pettigrew Museum is ruthlessly stolen! In this twisted tale of greed versus conservation, the audience is invited to do some sleuthing and help solve the crime. This Festival of Museums event marks the ending of the exhibition titled 'Still Life' that celebrates Bell Pettigrew Museum’s 100-year anniversary. Advance booking required.

Bell Pettigrew Museum, St Mary's Quadrangle, South Street, St Andrews
Saturday 19 May, 7.00pm – 9.00pm

University Hall Centennial Celebration and HM Queen Elizabeth II's Jubilee

This year University Hall celebrates two anniversaries: one hundred years of the extension of Old Wing and fifty years since Lumsden opened. This century and half-century deserve to be properly celebrated, and with HM Queen Elizabeth II's Jubilee this summer, we will be doing so with a great garden party and other festivities. We hope that everyone who lived or worked in University Hall is able to join us. Advance booking required.

University Hall, St Andrews
Thursday 24 May, 11.00am – 11.00pm

MUSA Collections Centre Tour

Come along to the MUSA Collections Centre to explore behind the scenes in the museum store! Discover items from the University's collection of over 112,000 objects. Find out about how we display and care for the University's collections of fine and applied art, silver, textiles, furniture, chemistry and historic scientific instruments.

MUSA Collections Centre, 87 North St, St Andrews
Wednesday 6 June, 2.00pm – 3.00pm


Still Life: 100 years of the Bell Pettigrew Museum of Natural History

A celebration of 100 years of the Bell Pettigrew Museum. Curated by postgraduate museum and gallery studies students.

Gateway Galleries, North Haugh, St Andrews
Continues to Saturday 19 May  

Ever to Excel

sean connery

“When Louise Richardson invited me to collaborate on a film to mark our 600 years, as a key part of the scholarship endowment campaign, I readily agreed.

As our film Ever to Excel began to take shape, I soon came to realise how central St Andrews is to Scotland. And how, in a very real sense, it is to America too.

I’m proud to be an honorary graduate of a place where good is never good enough. Ever to excel. Happy Birthday St Andrews.

Lang may your lum reek.”

Sir Sean Connery, Hon DLitt 1988

Alumni news, clubs and services

Calling all former Nightline volunteers


This September will mark the 40th anniversary of St Andrews Nightline. If you are a former volunteer, the current Nightline team would love to hear your stories about how the organisation was when you were a student! You can get in touch via email at

Keep calm and ceilidh on in Manchester!

Alumni living in Manchester and the surrounding area are warmly invited to join fellow graduates at ‘Keep Calm and Ceilidh On!’ at The Midland Hotel, Manchester on 2 June 2012. Tickets cost £46 and include a drinks reception, four-course dinner, ceilidh dancing and further evening entertainment. Contact Jennifer Lewis at or visit the website for further details.

Memories of St Salvator’s Hall

Are you a former resident of Sallies? The Warden and students of St Salvator’s Hall are working on a project to document the past 80+ years of their beautiful hall and invite alumni to share their memories and photos. Whether you remember Balls past or can help with the completion of the list of former staff, please contact Malcolm McLeod at

Reunion 2012: Friday 22 – Sunday 24 June 2012

Have you been thinking about making a return visit to St Andrews? Why not visit during Reunion Weekend when we can take care of your accommodation needs and when there will be a range of planned reunion activities for you to enjoy, including a black tie dinner in Lower College Hall and a ball with live music in Younger Hall. Perhaps you are planning to come or would like to get a group together and have either not yet found time to contact fellow alumni, or do not have up to date details for them? The Alumni Team is here to help. Simply give us a call on T: +44 (0)1334 467194/461913 or send an email to: For further details and to book your tickets click here.

Please book as early as possible to assist us with our planning, but by Monday 21 May at the latest.

Biology graduates and athletes

The School of Biology and the Sports Centre are planning special reunions this summer for alumni with Biology degrees or who participated in sports while at St Andrews.

Social networking

Alumni and friends can now keep up to date with the University activities and events online via Facebook and Twitter.

Follow our 600th Anniversary celebrations on Facebook.

US parents Facebook group is looking forward to hearing from you!

Network professionally through the alumni-run University of St Andrews Alumni LinkedIn group.


Rome: An Empire's Story

Professor Greg Woolf, School of Classics


Price £18.99 from Oxford University Press  

General Council of the University of St Andrews

Please visit here for the latest General Council news including information about the five candidates standing in this year's General Council Assessor to the University Court election and the two candidates standing in the election of a member to the Committee of the Alumnus Association

Please note that voting for both elections will take place online from mid-May to mid-June with the results announced at the General Council Meeting on 23 June 2012. Members who require a postal ballot should email the Clerk to the General Council or phone 01334 461913 as soon as possible and by 4 June 2012.

The next meeting of the General Council will take place during the annual Reunion Weekend at 10.30am on Saturday 23 June 2012 in Parliament Hall (please note earlier start time than usual) and will feature presentations on the University's latest achievements and an update on the exciting plans for the development of the University's Music Centre.

Making a gift

Our 600th Anniversary campaign was launched last year by our campaign Patron and alumnus, Prince William, Duke of Cambridge. We aim to secure £100 million to support a range of projects and aspirational new developments integral to the university’s ambition to consolidate its status as a world-class centre for teaching and research. To view the exciting and varied projects that make up the campaign, please visit our 600th website You can make a gift to the campaign in a variety of ways.

We look forward to welcoming you to our community of donors, committed to securing a seventh century of excellence for this great university.

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