New university rector Alistair Moffat was given a warm welcome this week as he rode into St Andrews to be officially installed in his new post.
He arrived in St Salvator’s Quad in style on Monday, riding a horse around the quadrangle before addressing the crowd of students and well wishers.
With a six-hour drag around the town’s student halls and local hostelries ahead of him, he said: “I am really looking forward to today and, for a teetotaller like myself, it is going to be quite an experience!
“Thank you all for coming and let’s have a really great day.”
His carriage was then dragged out of St Salvator’s and onto North Street by university blues to begin a marathon session of meeting student groups and societies and re acquainting himself with the local pubs and hotels from his own student days in the town.
On Tuesday, he was welcomed by university principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson.
She told the audience in the Younger Hall: “Mr Moffat is following in a long and noble tradition. He has some tough acts to follow, and a few acts I hope he won’t attempt to follow.”
“I don’t want to put too much pressure on Alistair but I would point out that his predecessor, Sir James Barrie, postponed his installation for two years so that he would have adequate time to work on his installation address.
“When it came time to deliver the address he was immobilized by fear and stood silent at the lectern in a state of fright, until the students started to heckle him, at which point he launched into his wonderful speech on courage.”
President of the Students’ Representative Council, Patrick O’Hare, praised the work and attitude of recent rectors as he welcomed the new post holder.
“Not for the St Andrews of today celebrity candidates, but working rectors like Alistair’s predecessors, Kevin Dunion and Simon Pepper, who did an excellent job in representing student interests,” he said.
“What binds these figures together with Alistair is a commitment and a passion to serve not only the students of St Andrews but also the institution as a whole.
“I receive and respect him as more than a father, but as a comrade and friend.”
After director of Student Representation Sam Fowles and Dr Mary Popple had also welcomed him, the new rector spoke with humour and brutal honesty about his less than illustrious start to his studies at St Andrews.
“St Andrews was and is a small town with a huge student population. The atmosphere is intense but the east wind that blows down North Street makes sure it is not too fevered,” he said.
“It is an immense honour to be rector of the University of St Andrews.
“Unlike me, please pay some attention to your academic work, but not too much. By all means discover all you need to know from those who teach you – but most of all learn from each other and discover who you are and who you might become. This place is where you will begin to grow up, where all the wonderful possibilities of life begin to reveal themselves.
“Just as I was, you are lucky to be here, and even luckier to be here with each other.”