8,000 students, one big decision

What do students want from their Union?

That’s the £12 million question the Your Union Redevelopment committee is asking students, staff and friends about the renovation of the Student Association Building.  And it’s no small undertaking — the building was built in 1973, when the University was 1/3 of its current size, and has undergone only minor upgrades since.  At the same time, the sheer number of student groups that use the building for meetings, social events, rehearsals, committees and office space have dramatically increased, while the technology needs have expanded.

Nearly 20 years in the planning, the renovations will provide a dramatic new façade, new and improved event venues including a 140-seat performance space, open plan offices, a 21st century multimedia suite, rehearsal rooms, and enlarged and improved society and commercial spaces

With an investment like this, it’s important that the design fully matches the expectations of the current and future student populations.

The architectural plans are finalised and the rooms are set, but some of the major decisions — colours, configurations, space names — are still in discussion.  Weigh in by joining the Your Union Redevelopment Facebook page, and scroll down to see the most recent set of plans.


More tea, sir?

The Chancellor, The Rt Hon Sir Menzies Campbell, CBE QC MP launches the Chancellor’s Circle north of the border over afternoon tea.

Part of the Chancellor‘s duty is “to keep a watchful eye on the University to promote its well-being,” as described by Ronald Gordon Cant, author of The University of St Andrews: A short history.  With this in mind, Sir Menzies launched his Chancellor’s Circle, the University’s legacy recognition society in Scotland last Saturday, 6 October to say thank you to those who have made a legacy gift in their will in favour of St Andrews.

The Chancellor’s Circle gathering took place in our “hallowed Parliament Hall”, as guest Norman Robertson described it. Over 70 members and guests were welcomed by the Chancellor, who talked about some of the legacies received from alumni, friends and staff of the University in the last year and some of the families we have come to know.

PhD student Elizabeth Rhodes also spoke on ‘Reformation in the Burgh of St Andrews: Property, Piety and Power’. Elizabeth herself is the recipient of the St Andrews Local History Foundation Bursary established as a result of a legacy. She was followed by Frank Gunn-Moore, Professor of Molecular Neurobiology, who spoke about the major discoveries his research team are making in understanding the early stages of Alzheimer’s and the importance of legacy income to this and other projects in medical sciences.

The Chancellor bid his guests goodbye but not before reminding them that, “A gift of a legacy regardless of its size is one of the most personal gifts that you can make to St Andrews. It is the kind of commitment that ensures our ability to provide the same edifying experience for the students of today and tomorrow, so thank you.”

Legacy bequests from far-sighted benefactors have had a profound effect on future generations of students and have helped to make Scotland’s first University what it is today.  If you are interested in leaving a legacy gift to St Andrews in your will, please speak in confidence to our Legacies Officer, Varan Houghton 01334 462 030 or by email.  If you have already left a legacy speak to Varan about having your support recognised by an invitation to join the Chancellor’s Circle. Members receive exclusive invitations to special Chancellor’s Circle events.

From Silver Screen to the 18th Green

For a small town on the edge of the North Sea, St Andrews has long attracted film stars from around the world. While more recently (since 2001) the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship has brought celebrities such as Samuel L Jackson, Bill Murray and Michael Douglas to town, in the first half of the twentieth century Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Astor, and Laurel and Hardy could all be found wandering the streets and fairways of St Andrews.

This week, as part of a collaboration between Dunhill and the University, we are celebrating this history through a small exhibition at the Old Course Hotel (From Silver Screen to the 18th Green – yes that was the best title we could come up with). The six images selected, kindly supplied by Special Collections, reveal the establishment of St Andrews as a ‘star site’ as film stars engage with, and contribute to, the culture, heritage and economy of the town.

We see crowds watching Bing Crosby practising for the British Amateur Golf Tournament in 1950 (see image). Crosby lost his first round match to local amateur J K Wilson, but would be back in 1971, and again a year later, with Wilson to award the inaugural Bing Crosby Trophy. In another picture, the popular entertainer Will Fyffe adopts a familiar pose on the bridge at the 18th with British star Patricia Roc. The pair had recently worked together in the Hebrides on The Brothers (1947) and were visiting The Rusacks Hotel, which Fyffe had invested in. A few months later, Fyffe would fall to his death from one of the windows of his hotel (a point we will try not to emphasise at this hotel exhibition). Other images show Bob Hope and Sean Connery (who won the Crosby Trophy in 1995) and, a personal favourite, Rita Hayworth playing a round in 1959 with her (fifth) husband, writer and producer James Hill.

The exhibition is part of a larger project (Cinema St Andrews) in the Department of Film Studies, which examines the history of cinema in St Andrews. The project has uncovered evidence of the first appearance of moving images in town at the Grand Fancy Bazaar of August 1895. This University event was intended to raise money for the Students’ Union and included, as The Citizen termed it, ‘Edison’s three latest marvels – the Phonograph, Kinetoscope and Kinetophone.’ It also represented the first appearance of what we might understand today as ‘sound film’ within the United Kingdom through the Kinetophone.

The Grand Fancy Bazaar would mark the advent of the town’s interest in the moving image; an interest that over the next 117 years has seen film played in strange and wonderful places from a converted church (which doubled as a skating rink!) to purpose-built cinemas. Film societies have grown and disbanded, while film-makers, both amateur and professional, have used the town as a location for their films (and I’m not just talking about Chariots of Fire). The project website contains articles, materials and timelines examining the town’s rich cinematic heritage. It also contains a questionnaire and we would love to hear from anyone who has memories or materials that shed light on this important part of our local history.

Tom Rice, Lecturer in Film Studies.

Dr Tom Rice and The Cinema St Andrews project was granted a Russell Trust Development Award (Staff) to pursue their goals of celebrating the role of cinema in St Andrews. 

Who let the students in? Reflections from a McIntosh Hall Warden

By Dr Lara Meischke, Academic Liaison and Systems Manager and Warden for McIntosh Hall

A little more than two weeks ago, McIntosh Hall reopened and welcomed around 250 students over the course of the opening weekend. My team and I really look forward to it – it’s intense, but after the three days of training that precede it, we’re all keen to get doing the job for which we signed up.

So many new faces, many of whom have travelled quite a distance, and far too interested in getting their key and seeing their new room to pay much attention to the short safety briefing we give them. Some get to grips with the Hall by joining the Facebook group and appear confident, independent and excited. Others are clearly terrified, worried about being separated from Mum while she watches the bags out in the corridor. The Assistant Wardens and I all remember our arrivals day in Hall, and try to get everyone in as smoothly as possible. We answer all those questions that may sound daft, but will make all the difference to someone’s first day in a new place.

And then there are the familiar faces. It’s great to see all the returning students that are coming back to Hall for a second, third or even fourth year. Their presence makes it so much easier for the new students to settle in, and they pass on the traditions, and the sense of community, that makes McIntosh what it is. Many are Hall Committee members, and were busy over the summer planning the Freshers’ Week events in Hall. We help them run a mix of live music, quizzes, home baking and inter-hall sport, and the traditional cocktail and garden parties. We also get out the face paint for the Tribal Warfare bop, where residents wear Hall colours (purple and blue) to compete with other halls to show who has the most spirit.

We’re all fired up and ready for another year in McIntosh, and can’t wait to see how this year’s batch comes along!  In the meantime, enjoy some pictures from last year’s Orientation, or click here to see McIntosh Hall through the seasons.  If you are a McIntosh alum, consider joining the McIntosh Alumni Facebook group!

As Lara’s post demonstrates, living in the community, near classes and friends, is an important part of the St Andrews experience.  And yet, because of high rental prices and the town’s small size, many students must choose between loans to cover  living costs or commuting from places outside of town.  Our Accommodation Bursaries programme aims to provide 300 students (with the greatest need) bursaries of £1,000 each, to be spent on living costs.  Learn more about the programme at our campaign website.