Students at St Andrews University will welcome their new rector, award-winning author Alistair Moffat, next week during a two day programme of celebrations.
On Monday he will take part in the traditional rectorial drag when he will enter the historic St Salvator’s Quadrangle - the mode of transport for his arrival is shrouded in secrecy - to be greeted by students. He will then climb on board an open carriage before being literally dragged around the town by university blues, all members of the Athletic Union.
During the drag he will stop off at various student halls of residence and other locations around the town - including some local pubs and hotels - to meet representatives of dozens of student societies and other groups and receive a gift from each.
In the past, gifts have included the keys to an all-female hall, a live pig, a golden brick, and golf clubs.
The drag will be followed by a torchlight procession along the north pier at the town’s mediaeval harbour in the evening involving hundreds of students.
Tuesday will see the more formal installation ceremony in the Younger Hall where Mr Moffat will be welcomed by Dr Louise Richardson, the principal and vice-chancellor, and members of the University Court when he will receive the loyal address from the students, to be delivered by Patrick O’Hare, the Students’ Association president.
Mr Moffat will also deliver his rectorial address which, over the years, have been moments of great oratory in the history of the university, including J.M.Barrie’s “Courage” and John Cleese’s ironic “Cowardice.”
The celebrations will close with a celebratory party in the Byre Theatre in the evening.
Mr O’Hare told the Citizen: ”We are very excited to welcome Mr Moffat and the enthusiasm with which the student body has embraced the celebrations and the rectorial election itself shows how highly we value this tradition.”
Alistair Moffat was elected by a landslide last October to succeed Kevin Dunion, the Scottish Information Commissioner, as rector.
Born in Kelso 1950, he is a graduate of St Andrews, Edinburgh and London universities.
In 1976 he began a five-year period in charge of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, afterwards moving to Scottish Television, latterly as director of programmes and chief executive of Network Production.
In 1999 he resigned these posts and settled in the Borders, where he is director of the Lennoxlove and Borders Book Festivals.
His recent books include Tyneside and The Reivers, which for many weeks was on the Scottish bestseller lists, both of which have been made into television series. He met his wife, Lindsay, while both were students at St Andrews.
The position of rector is a unique role which exists only in four Scottish ancient universities - St Andrews, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen – and in Dundee.
The rector represents the students of St Andrews and takes the chair of University Court.