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The Rectors of the University of St Andrews 1859-2005
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The Rectors of the University of St Andrews 1859-2005 (Hardback)

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St Andrews is the third oldest university in the English-speaking world. Students of the ancient Scottish universities have a remarkable privilege. Every three years they elect a Rector who is second in the hierarchy, after the Chancellor and above the Principal. The Rectors has the right to chair the highest governing body, the university Court, a position that potentially carries great influence. And a Rector has the right - perhaps the duty - to look after the students' interests. It is a uniquely Scottish custom and is in Scotland's tradition of democracy.Professor Struther Arnott, who was Principal of St Andrews from 1986 to 1999, said that the privilege of electing the chair of the Court 'is quite beyond the wildest aspirations of liberal institutions in any other parts of the world'. Academics and administrators faced the intellectual challenge of being dealt every three years 'a wild card that is provocative but not destructive'. That was a salutary remedy against academic smugness. The Rectors are a roll-call of the great. Recently they have included broadcasters, comedians, journalists and actors.

Many traditions are associated with the office: lively election campaigns; a staged, set-piece address by each Rector to his or her constituents; and, memorable and picturesque events such as the Drag.

Donald Wintersgill, took degrees in history and law at Glasgow University and edited the university magazine. He became a journalist and worked on the Guardian for most of his career. He was editor in chief of the Guardian syndication service and of the Observer Foreign News Service.

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