Catherine Stihler MEP follows in the footsteps of Peter Pan author J M Barrie, Jungle Book creator Rudyard Kipling and comedian John Cleese; having been appointed as the new Rector of the University of St Andrews.
A St Andrews graduate, and former student president, Ms Stihler has been a Member of the European Parliament for Scotland since 1999 and is currently the only female MEP representing Scotland.
She also serves the European Parliament as Vice Chair of the committee responsible for consumer rights and the digital single market.
She was the only candidate to be nominated by Wednesday’s deadline and was therefore confirmed as the university’s 52nd Rector and only the second female to hold the position, replacing outgoing Rector Alistair Moffat.
She will be officially installed as Rector after the traditional student ‘drag’ next year, when students take the new Rector on an epic six-hour tour of student halls and local hostelries.
Ms Stihler said: “As Rector, I want to make St Andrews accessible to everyone by lobbying for an increase in accommodation and alleviating the HMO ban.
“I will organise a series of inspirational talks and utilise our alumni network to give our graduates the career opportunities they deserve.
“I will fight to protect St Andrews’ traditions, working alongside the community council and university to ensure the survival of Raisin Weekend.
“St Andrews provides an experience like no other. It will be an honour to serve again.”
Student Anna Newman, who proposed Ms Stihler for election, said: “I cannot wait to see St Andrews thrive with Catherine as Rector over the next three years. She will be an incredible support system for students, an inspiring leader, and an amazing asset to our University. I’m very proud to call her Rector.”
President of the University of St Andrews Students’ Association Pat Mathewson added: “Far more than ceremonial, this ancient office resides at the heart of the student experience. Catherine stands poised to continue the strong tradition of a working rector here in St Andrews. She is not only incredibly accomplished, but she is one of our own.”
The position of Rector is an important role. The Rector represents the students of St Andrews and presides at Court, the supreme governing body of the university.
The first Rector of St Andrews was Sir Ralph Anstruther of Balcaskie, who took up post in 1859. He was followed soon after by John Stuart Mill (1865), Field Marshall Sir Douglas Haig (1916), Sir James Matthew Barrie (1919), Rudyard Kipling (1922), Fridtjof Nansen (1925) and Jan Christian (‘General’) Smuts (1931).
Decades later, the seventies saw a host of famous British personalities take on the role, with John Cleese, Alan Coren, Frank Muir and Tim Brooke-Taylor all holding the position of St Andrews Rector.
Ms Stihler will be officially installed by the University’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson next year.
It will be a return visit to the stage of the Younger Hall for Catherine, who graduated with an MA with joint honours in International Relations and Geography and a postgraduate MLitt in International Security Studies.