Commissioner rides into role as new rector

A WHITE shirt and straw boater did little to keep out the cold as new St Andrews University rector Kevin Dunion pedalled himself into office on Monday.

Each rector is encouraged to choose a novel way of arriving — Sir Clement Freud was delivered in a sack by a Post Office van.

Gamely manoeuvering the Jannetta's Ice Cream bicycle (in honour of his late grandparents who owned an ice cream shop in Alloa) over the cobbles in North Street, Mr Dunion was almost blown into St Salvator's Quadrangle by a gust of wind which sent his hat spinning.

Students' Association President, Andrew Keenan and Rector's Assessor Georgina Rannard steadied the 'Stop Me and Buy One' cycle as Scotland's first Information Commissioner wobbled through the arch, just after 1 p.m., to be greeted by crowds of students, staff and well-wishers.

An hour later, Mr Dunion was pulled around the town in an 18th century carriage by the university sports 'Blues', followed by students and representatives of student societies, finishing at the Union in St Mary's Place at around 5 p.m. Later there was a torch-lit procession to the end of the pier in his honour.

Mr Dunion, himself a graduate of St Andrews University, was a popular choice, earning 50 per cent of the vote in last October's rectorial election.

He was officially installed at a ceremony in Younger Hall, in North Street, on Tuesday afternoon.

Born in Bridge of Allan, Mr Dunion grew up in Alloa and Glenrothes.

He gained an MA (Hons) in Modern History at St Andrews and an MSc (Dist) in African Studies at the University of Edinburgh.

In 2003 he was nominated by the Scottish Parliament to become the first Scottish Information Commissioner, responsible for enforcing the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act.

Since then he has issued a number of high profile decisions requiring the release of information on MSPs expenses; surgical mortality rates; and major public-private contracts.

He is now regularly consulted on implementing or improving freedom of information internationally.

As campaign manager for Oxfam, he spent time in India, Central America and Zimbabwe documenting the impact of development policies and in particular their effect on the environment.

He then became chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland and was elected Chairman of Friends of the Earth International, representing a network of over 60 countries at the UN Commission on Sustainable Development at the UN in New York and the Earth Summit in South Africa.

His work earned him an OBE in 1999.

Mr Dunion has also published books and articles on the environment, international aid, sustainable development and Scottish politics and was founding editor of 'Radical Scotland' magazine.)