Film director in frame for honorary degree

Murray Grigor.
Murray Grigor.

The work of award-winning film director and writer, Murray Grigor OBE, will be recognised by the University of St Andrews today (Friday), as he receives an honorary degree on St Andrew’s Day.

Mr Grigor - who directed the university’s 600th anniversary film, Ever to Excel, starring Sir Sean Connery, will be joined at the annual graduation event by philosopher Professor Myles Burnyeat, author Candia McWilliam and biochemist Professor Iain D Campbell.

An alumnus of St Andrews, Mr Grigor is a former director of Channel 4 and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

He has also served as director of the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) from 1967-1972, as well as its chairman from 1985 -1990.

He was the first recipient of the Royal Television Society Reith Award and was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2012 New Year Honours for services to architecture and the film industry.

Professor Campbell, emeritus professor of structural biology at the University of Oxford, studied physics at St Andrews, graduating with a BSc in 1963, before going on to achieve his PhD in 1967, also at Scotland’s oldest university


As well as a distinguished career in the Department of Biochemistry at Oxford, Professor Campbell pioneered the use of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) to study the structure of life’s engines, proteins.

NMR is a technique to look at atoms that is used by almost every chemistry, biochemistry and biology research laboratory. His efforts have transformed biology through both the development and application of NMR.

Professor Burnyeat graduated with a BA in Classics and Philosophy from King’s College, Cambridge in 1963 followed by graduate studies at University College, London (UCL).

From 1964 he lectured in philosophy at UCL, then classics at Cambridge University. He was then Fellow and lecturer in philosophy at Robinson College, Cambridge, and then Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy 1984-1996 at Cambridge before becoming senior research fellow in philosophy at All Souls College, Oxford, until 2006.

He has written several books including A Map of Metaphysics Zeta (2001) and Aristotle’s Divine Intellect (2008) and was awarded a CBE in 2007 for his services to scholarship.

Candia McWilliam was born in Edinburgh and has won wide critical acclaim for her novels including Debatable Land (1994), which was awarded the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Premio Grinzane Cavour for the best foreign novel of the year in its Italian translation.

Her novel, A Case of Knives (1988), won a Betty Trask Prize and her other works including A Little Stranger (1989) and her collection of stories Wait Till I Tell You (1997) have also been critically well received. Her memoir, What to Look for in Winter (2010), charted her battle with blindness. In 2006, she began to suffer the effects of blepharospasm – a condition which can cause eyelids to close permanently - and was rendered functionally blind. In 2009, she underwent an operation which harvested tendons from her leg in order to enable her to open her eyelids.

The honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (DLitt) will be awarded to Mr Grigor, Ms McWilliam and Professor Burnyeat, while Professor Campbell will be made honorary Doctor of Science (DSc) at the ceremonies in the Younger Hall.

n A full list of graduates will appear in next week’s Citizen.