Adrian Thomas (3rd year - Geography/IR) and John Hunt (3rd year- Geography) came along to the Meet the Rector event to tell me about the epic 6 week trip they plan to make next year. 12 St Andrews students will drive to UlaanBataar, Mongolia in 3 rugged vehicles which will be left there to be used as ambulances in a country which has only c1500 km of paved roads. They need to raise £50,000 to buy and equip the vehicles . Check out their website: http://staagmongolia.wordpress.com/
Newly elected School Presidents met for the first time this afternoon. 19 School Presidents along with 1 Student Assoc President, 1 Director of Representation, I SRC Education Officer, 2 Deans, I Vice Principal , as well as The Master and The Rector meant that there was a lot of firepower in Venue 2 of the Union to discuss key issues of the student academic experience including the need for early feedback ( Prof Pat Wilmer the VP (Teaching) promised 'a blitz' this semester to secure improved practice) ; the role of student opinion in assessing teaching staff; the prospect of changing the academic calendar (with potentially sub honours exams at the end of semester 1.) I thought the meeting was engaged and purposeful and and a step forward from the class reps forums which attracted over 100 reps but made it difficult to progress a strategic agenda.
Met up for dinner with the speakers for the University Debating Society's US Mid Term Election debate and then along to a packed Lower Parliament Hall where, as expected, partisan rhetorical blows were traded , but with no side landing a knock out line. Nevertheless the final result in the floor vote was an overwhelming victory for the Democrats- which they would love to see repeated on the other side of the pond.
If you're organising an event, campaigning on an issue or need some advice, the Rector is here to help.
Kevin will be holding drop-in 'surgery' sessions at various points this semester, from 2-3.30pm in the Union Main Bar.
The dates for this semester are
Wednesday 20th October,
Wednesday 3rd November,
Wednesday 24th November and
Wednesday 8th December.
Feel free to email Kevin on firstname.lastname@example.org, or Amanda, the Rector's Assessor on email@example.com with any questions, or just drop in to the sessions
The Golden Middle in eastern European universities is the time when students take stock of how far they have come in their studies and are acknowledged for their achievements , and given motivation for the remaining half of their time at university. The Golden Middle Ball held in the Younger Hall at the end of Freshers Week was aimed at new 3rd year students in particular and I was delighted to be asked by Vladimir Bliznyukov to be the keynote speaker and to be introduced by The Proctor, Professor Peter Clark. Tickets sold well and the organizers want this to be an 'instant tradition' so I hope that it is on the calendar next year.
Not wanting to miss out on the fun of Freshers' week, the Rector will be involved with a couple of events this week.
On Tuesday night Kevin will kick off the first of the St Andrean Lecture series. This will be at 6.30pm in School III of St Salvator's quad and is open to all students. Along with Chris Hill, Kevin will be talking about student politics and his experience of activism as a student at the University himself in the '70s. Come along for an interesting start to your Tuesday night!
Kevin is also delighted to be opening the first 'Golden Middle' Ball, on Saturday 25th Sepetember - a new tradition that marks the mid point of University life for Third Years with a drinks reception and welcome from the Principal at 6.30pm, but which will open to all students from 8.30pm for a formal but festive night of DJs, dancing and live music.
Amanda, the Rector's Assessor will also be at these events, and also on hand at the Freshers' Fayre on Sunday 26th with information about the Rector for First Years and details of this semester's Meet The Rector sessions.
Enjoy your week, whether it's your first, second, third, fourth or more!
This is graduation time and this afternoon's ceremony recognised students from International Relations. When Inga Jacob's from Pretoria crossed the stage in front of me to receive her PhD for a thesis entitled 'Norms and Transboundary Co-operation in Africa: The Cases of the Orange-Senqu and Nile Rivers' the now unmistakable sound of a vuvuzela horn could be heard from the serried ranks of relatives. It was her proud father ( a librarian in Capetown) who was happy to recreate the moment in the Quad for me afterwards.
Second year Mediaeval History student Amanda Litherland has been appointed as the new Rector's Assessor.
Hailing from the Isle of Man, Amanda will aid and advise the Rector, Kevin Dunion, until the end of his term in the role in October 2011. She will also be tasked with encouraging students to nominate a wide range of candidates in the next rectorial election. Outside her studies, she has appeared in a number of student theatrical productions including The Tempest.
Amanda replaces James Shield, who has completed his term as Rector's Assessor following a year as Director of Representation at the Students' Association. The appointment was decided following a competitive application process and two rounds of interviews.
Students and societies who are interested in asking the Rector to participate in an event next academic year can contact Amanda via the contact form on this page.
To mark the mid-point of his 3-year term as Rector and the end of the academic year, Cordula Schnuer from the STAR news team sat down with Kevin to talk about the highlights so far and some of the challenges facing the University.
STAR broadcasts 24/7 during term time. Listen online at www.standrewsradio.com.
Click the play button below to play the podcast, or subscribe to Kevin's podcasts on iTunes by clicking here.
Kevin joined two Pixar animators and the BAFTA award winning film maker Robert Sproul-Cran on the judging panel for this year's Half Cut Film Festival. STAR's Uday Pratap Singh took to the red carpet to interview the judges and organisers as well as some of the festival's film makers.
Listen below or find all of the Rector's podcasts on iTunes: