Principal visits alumni in the “Great White North”

On Tuesday, 4 June, about 100 friends of the University gathered in the lush, green setting of The Toronto Golf Club, just west of the city, to meet The Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson.

The evening reception and dinner was the climax of a brief visit to Canada by the Principal, accompanied by Robert Fleming, Director of Development. Earlier they had visited Western University in London, Ontario, to discuss the relationship the two universities enjoy. The Golf Club setting was appropriate since the event had been organised by Roger Thompson, a Club member and a Western graduate who founded and generously supports the Canadian Bobby Jones Scholarship programme that sends several young Canadians to St Andrews each year.

Greeting the guests in the summer evening sunshine, the Principal summarised the 600th Anniversary celebrations so far and spoke with some foreboding of her plan to take part in the bicycle journey retracing the route of the celebrated Papal Bull from Spain to St Andrews. She passed on the excellent news that The Guardian, that very day, had issued its rankings of Britain’s universities, with St Andrews in fourth place overall, and the first in Scotland. With this message lightening their steps, the guests moved inside to the traditional dining room of the 100-year-old clubhouse for dinner.

The dinner’s organizers – Fiona Eason, Alumni Relations Officer; Becky Mitchell, North American Development Representative; Lynn Butcher, President of the American Foundation and the local Alumni Club stalwarts Moira Dean, Zosia Blackstone and Karin Tait – had carefully arranged the dinner seating to mix newer St Andrews attendees with veteran greybeards and the parents of current students with proud graduates. The result was a lively meal full of fresh conversations and new friendships.

Introduced by our host, Roger Thompson, Professor Richardson chose not to deliver a set speech, but to answer questions posed by her diverse audience. As a result, the audience was treated to her witty and wide-ranging thoughts about the financing differences between North American universities and those in Scotland, the coming referendum in Scotland, her role as the first female Principal of St Andrews and other topics of equal interest.

Underlying all of these lively and informative responses was her pride in the University, its distinguished past and its promising future, as indicated by that day’s Guardian rankings. At the end of a pleasant and encouraging evening, the attendees left for home, in no doubt that the University was in good hands as it moved into its seventh century . . . and excited by the news that a Toronto screening of the film Ever To Excel was being arranged for October.   More details available soon!