Top honour for St Andrews University chaplain

Dr Jamie Walker received University of St Andrews Medal.
Dr Jamie Walker received University of St Andrews Medal.

ST Andrews University chaplain, the Rev Dr Jamie Walker, has received one of the most prestigious honours the institution can bestow in recognition of his exceptional and dedicated service.

During a special ceremony held in the Younger Hall he was presented with the University Medal, which was inaugurated in 2004 and can be made to current or former members of staff, alumni of the university or members of the local community.

Speaking at the ceremony, Professor Ronald Piper, vice-principal (governance and planning), said: ”In 1993, Jamie Walker was appointed university chaplain for the normal term in those days of five years. The fact that he is now due to retire from that post 18 years later gives an indication of the esteem with which he has been held and reason that we are honouring him.”

Born in Malawi, Dr Walker came to St Andrews with broad experience. Educated in philosophy and divinity at Edinburgh University - having earned a DPhil from Oxford, been ordained in the Church of Scotland and principal of Queen’s College, Birmingham, an ecumenical centre of training for ministry - he had already acquired a perspective that spanned both the academy and the church.

Professor Piper continued: ”Over the past 18 years, Jamie has employed the skills and gifts that he had developed to the immense benefit of students and staff in St Andrews.

“As leader of the chaplaincy team and associate director of Student Services, he has cared for this varied community and their families in countless ways — spiritually, intellectually, and practically.

‘‘In his pastoral and counselling roles, he has walked alongside - and offered sensitive and patient support to - those of all religious persuasions and none. In this he has been especially appreciated for his openness, wisdom and quiet listening, while working long, often costly, hours in dedication to his calling.”

However, in addition to his impact upon the lives of so many, often at critical moments for them, Professor Piper said that it should be recognised that Dr Walker had made many other contributions to the university, including attracting a galaxy of leading preachers to the popular services in St Salvator’s Chapel and also strongly supported student societies and the Chapel choir.

He concluded in his citation: ”With the help of his wife, Sheila, and their family, he has offered hospitality to many in his home. He has conducted countless weddings and it should also be recognised that Jamie has had a significant role in academic affairs, chiefly by convening the university’s Teaching and Research Ethics Committee.’’

The medal, which is two inches in diameter, comprises the university crest in enamel on a gilt medal.

It may be awarded to an individual in recognition of a significant personal contribution to the educational, cultural or economic development or to the improvement of the quality of life within St Andrews or north east Fife; in recognition of exceptional service to the university; or in recognition of meritorious achievements within 10 years of graduation from the University of St Andrews.