The R&A Ransome Scholarship: Funding Excellence

The Dr. Ernest L Ransome III Scholarship was initially established in 1994 as a way for the friends and associates of Ernest Ransome to recognise his commitment to philanthropy, education and athletics.

The scholarship’s mission is to enrich the experience of deserving postgraduate students by affording them the opportunity to attend the University of St Andrews. Due to the generous support of our wonderful donors, the R&A Ransome Scholarship has helped fund the full course of study for deserving students entering a one-year postgraduate course.

One such R&A Ransome Scholarship recipient is Imogen Hawley, from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA. She is one of the three 2016/2017 postgraduate recipients and is completing a MSc in Global Health Implementation.

Imogen completed her undergraduate degree here in Social Anthropology and proved to be a highly active member of the St Andrews community. Now, she speaks on her experiences here as a postgrad:

HAWLEY Imogen.jpg

Imogen Hawley

“Though just a snapshot, this description of a day in my life encompasses much of my experience in St Andrews so far. After running twenty miles, I defend a policy on tuberculosis diagnostic methods used in sub-Saharan Africa during a tutorial. Later on, I attend a postgraduate executive forum, representing the Global Health Implementation course.

Well after the sun has set, I find myself in the Union café, reading about social franchising in maternal health organisations. My reading is interrupted by an email appearing in my inbox: a message informing me that the bake sale that I had held earlier in the week had raised £70 for Women’s Rights Initiative in Uganda.

I smile, warm with the feeling of being able to make a difference globally – even from this small fishing village tucked away on the eastern shore of Scotland.

The breadth of my course has kept me continuously curious, exploring a vast range of topics and theories. I have been able to develop practical skills in coursework and tutorial presentations, applying my knowledge to real world situations.

When I’m not studying or writing essays, I spend time volunteering, running and spending time around town with new friends.  I have also been involved in student affairs as a class representative, helping make improvements to the course curriculum as well as planning guest lectures and possible fieldtrips.

All of this is complemented by St Andrews’ unique environment, fostering academic prestige and ambition in a small, beautiful town on the sea.

I am confident that my experience in St Andrews this year has shaped the rest of my life – not only with brighter career prospects but also with stronger friendships and new perspectives. This formative opportunity would not be possible without the help of the R&A Ransome Scholarship, and for that I am extremely grateful.”

For more information about the R&A Ransome Scholarship and ways to donate, please visit or for further information about making a gift in support of scholarships at St Andrews please visit


Sallies Quad

Sallies Quad, or more formally, the United College of St Salvator and St Leonard, is one of the oldest remaining parts of the University of St Andrews and sits at the heart of the town, both geographically and spiritually. Former intern in the Development Office, Naomi Boon, investigated the history of the Quad and how it has changed over the University’s 600 year history…

The steeple of St Salvator’s Chapel is a well-recognised sight in the St Andrews skyline and is a rare but stunning example of the town’s late gothic architecture. The chapel was founded in 1450 as a part of Bishop James Kennedy’s College of the Holy Saviour and despite a long and varied history, remains the central hub of the University, popular with students and tourists alike.

old quad pic

Photo courtesy of Special Collections, University of St Andrews library

The college tower rises above the main entrance to the old college. It was originally finished with a flat summit, but a stone spire was added in the mid-16th century.  The oldest photographs show a clock featuring on the tower from the earliest times, situated immediately below the belfry.


Photo courtesy of Special Collections, University of St Andrews library

Today, the chapel is a mixture of old and new. It bears the scars of religious strife but remains a beautiful, living building much used by both students and staff. It is today very much as it was intended to be by Bishop Kennedy: the heart of the University.

The Quad has served a wealth of functions throughout the University’s history, hosting foam fights on the lawn on Raisin Weekend, to the old glassed-in cloister which has served as a social space for generations, from a space for the debating society, to a functioning gymnasium.

“The Gymnasium I remember vividly on the South side of the Quadrangle. It was a great meeting-place on wet afternoons. We had no instructor, and were left to the freedom of our own wills, so did not learn much. I am afraid the most popular bit of apparatus was the trapeze, used simply as a swing.”

Robert Stewart, University of St Andrews student, 1879-81.

LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01

Photo from 1911, courtesy Special Collections, University of St Andrews library

The refurbishment of St Salvator’s Quad in 2015 has ensured that this historically important space will remain a focal point of University life for many years to come. This redevelopment was one of the University’s 600th Anniversary fundraising initiatives.

One of the main objectives was to introduce a hidden infrastructure to allow the Quad to be a venue for major events, such as international celebrations, important community events and graduation parties. This was made possible by replacing the degraded tarmac with hard-wearing flagstone, restoration and extension of the central lawn, ramps making the space safer and more accessible, as well as installing hidden power, water and lighting for events.


In 2016, additional work was done to refurbish the appearance of the clock tower

The redevelopment captured the imagination of over 1,500 donors, whose generous support raised in excess of £700,000. Alumni from every corner of the globe responded to the flag stone campaign, with accompanying stories and special memories from their time at St Andrews.

graduation in the quad

Photo courtesy of the University of St Andrews

Thanks to the special Anniversary gifts given by generous alumni, the refurbished Quad is ready for future generations of students to enjoy and for another 600 years of memories to be made.


Photo courtesy of the University of St Andrews

These flagstones proved incredibly popular with donors wishing to see their loved one’s name etched into the future of the Quad. A second wave of flagstones was released at the end of 2016 and there are still a few available for alumni and friends to inscribe. For further information, visit

 For further information on the Quad and its wonderful history, see

Master of the Universe

Robin White (LLB 1967) studied Law at the University’s Queen’s College, Dundee campus, graduating in the year that St Andrews and Dundee split. Robin opted to accept his degree from St Andrews, but has maintained close connections with both institutions ever since. Here is his story…

I took the LLB between the years of 1964 and 1967. The 1964 cohort comprised between 30 and 40 students, only a few of whom did not graduate. We came from a wide variety of places within the UK, and the proportion from England (like me) was something much discussed.


Robin outside “the Terrapins” following his graduation in July 1967

Nearly all of us were straight from school (the gap-year not having been invented), but there were a couple of mature students and perhaps six women.

I have no idea where the great majority of that cohort are now. It is a safe bet that most are (possibly now retired) solicitors, but I do know one became Regional Procurator-Fiscal for Strathclyde, two became professors, and another went to jail.

The LLB dated from an 1894 Ordinance designed for part-time students, modified only in that it was now full-time. Thus, there was very little choice of subject, but it was considerably less challenging than it had originally been (and would shortly become). We had two or three lectures a day, generally in the traditional monologue form, and little by way of other work.

Half the staff were local practitioners, teaching part-time, as nearly all teaching in all Law Faculties always had been. Most memorable was Alistair MacDonald, part-time Professor of Conveyancing, and still with us. Full-timers were an innovation, but more obvious to students. Memorable ones included Arthur Matheson (Professor of Scots Law), Neil (later the famous Sir Neil) McCormick, Jim Robertson (both lecturers, very clubbable and known to attend student parties) and Ian Willock (Professor of Jurisprudence), all regrettably now deceased.

Social life was equally memorable. Gaudie Night, when Senior Women/Men took out their bejant/ines (yes, still called that) to get them drunk, flourished. Indeed, social life revolved around the Union Bar (then decorated by wonderful Breugelesque wall-paintings), the Tavern in Hawkhill, the Saturday Hop in New Dines, and parties in flats. There seemed to be a party somewhere every Saturday.

My other chief extra-curricular activities were the Folk Club (and I once heard Mary Brooksbank sing Coarse and Fine) and the Air Squadron (flying at Leuchars every Sunday) and, for a year, the Judo Club.


A recent photo of Robin

Finance deserves a mention since it was no problem in those days. Like almost everybody, I got a grant, merely supplemented by holiday jobs, at the Post Office (Christmas), and a building site and a bakery (over the summer). Indeed I saved enough to buy a large BSA motorbike in Second Year, and a large Alvis car in Third.

I can remember, one summer’s evening, between the exam results coming out and the date of graduation, standing outside the Ship Inn in Broughty Ferry, watching the sun set over the hills upstream of the Tay, and thinking I was a Master of the Universe.


Robin went on to forge a successful career in law, as a regularly-sitting Justice of the Peace, a member of the Judicial Council for Scotland and as part of the Advisory Committee of the Judicial Institute for Scotland. He is currently an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Dundee where he previously held the posts of Senior Lecturer and Associate Dean of the former Faculty of Law and Accountancy. He was the first recipient of the Chancellor’s Award for Lifetime Contribution to Teaching by the University of Dundee upon his retirement and is now writing a history of law teaching in Dundee. 

It’s All There in Black and White…

Alan McPherson (BSc 1965) shares memories of his time at the University of St Andrews, Queens College, Dundee in the 1960s. He describes his final year as an undergraduate and how it changed his career path for ever …


Alan’s Degree Certificate

“From an early age I wanted to be an engineer, and this influenced my application to St Andrews University, Queens College, Dundee to study electrical engineering. It was, and still is, my opinion that engineers make the world go round. However, although I emerged from Queens College as a graduate engineer, and am still qualified to call myself a Chartered Engineer, my career from the time of leaving university did not follow the path towards heavy electrical engineering I had envisioned when I started. So what caused this change of direction?

In the final year of the undergraduate course, each student had to conduct a series of lab experiments. One experiment in particular involved complicated mathematical calculations that were assisted considerably by a small program run on the ZEBRA digital computer installed at the college (used extensively at that point by research staff from the Physics department for their work on X-Ray crystallography). ZEBRA – an acronym for the Dutch words Zeer Eenvoudige Binaire Reken-Automat (which translates as very easy binary calculating machine) – was the result of a collaboration between mathematicians of the Dutch Post Office and engineers of Standard Telephones and Cables. It was built using about 600 thermionic valves and a similar number of germanium transistors.

This machine was the first ‘proper’ computer I had seen, and I was so impressed that I was given permission to use it unsupervised when it wasn’t being used by the Physics research staff. It filled most of the space in the room, generated prodigious quantities of heat and had to be run continuously to avoid malfunctions provoked by temperature cycling. Before using the computer there would normally be a pause while the windows of the room were opened wide to allow the system to cool down for about 20 minutes.

I learned programming on that computer, becoming familiar first with the interpreted Simple Code programming language and moving on later to the more fundamental Normal Code program running directly on the hardware.


Graduation, 1965

At that time, computing was still in its infancy – indeed it was barely out of the cradle. After leaving university and enthused with my first experience of computing, I ignored opportunities in the heavy electrical engineering industry and became involved exclusively in the emerging field of the design and development of digital computer systems. I remained in that field for the rest of my working life, working on both hardware and software. In fact, I found that having a good grounding in both hardware and software camps was a positive advantage that not many other design engineers possessed.

Over the years, I was drawn to the secretive field of secure computing, protecting information that has a government security classification. My last position before retirement was as chief systems test engineer for a company specialising in cryptography using high-grade encryption and producing secure systems and products for financial establishments, most UK and European banks, government and military establishments.

Because of that lab experiment in the 1960s and my consequent change of focus, I feel that I have played a small part in the subsequent Digital Revolution, now in full swing. The social consequences of this will be every bit as sweeping and far-reaching as its predecessor the Industrial Revolution, but this time on a global scale and with an immediacy spurred on by the internet and world wide web. This digital revolution still has a long way to run, and the social consequences will be even more significant and life-changing for everyone on the planet.”


Alan at home in front of his laptop, 2017

Dundee at 50: looking back and moving forward

2017 sees the 50th anniversary of the formation of the University of Dundee following its separation from the University of St Andrews.

The connection between the two universities is well established, dating back to the initial formation of University College, Dundee in 1881 and the subsequent joining of the two institutions six years later.

The next 70 years saw many changes (not least the decision to build a road bridge linking Fife and Dundee!) and led to the granting of a royal charter, which formally established the University of Dundee in August 1967.

In recognition of this anniversary we are planning to publish a series of blog posts throughout the year featuring alumni reminiscences and images from the 1960s.

If you have a story, photographs or simply a short anecdote to share with us, we would be delighted to hear from you!

Please send your memories to Sue Hill (Publications Officer) and Phil Pass (Alumni Relations Officer):

T: +44 (0)1334 46 7194
P: Development, University of St Andrews, Crawford Building, 91 North Street, St Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AJ

The ‘Ever to Excel’ Bell

In our latest blog, Simon Harper (BSC 1987) recounts how St Andrews gave him and his wife, Ann (née White, BSc 1985) much more than just a degree: it equipped them with the enthusiasm, determination and community spirit to raise £100,000 to buy a new ring of eight bells for their local church in the middle of the ‘deepest financial crisis the UK had seen in a generation’. Here is their story. 



Ann and Simon with daughters Lucy (left) and Emma (graduating)

“Ann and I first met in the University’s Hamilton Hall – the iconic red-bricked building overlooking the 18th green of the Old Course. Ann was the Senior Student in 1983–84 and I followed her lead in 1986–87.

“Following University, I trained as a Chartered Accountant with Arthur Andersen, then Price Waterhouse and am now Finance Director of the insurance broker Lycetts, while Ann, after earning a prize in Economics, went on to pursue a PGCE at Jordanhill College in Glasgow. She has been a primary school teacher ever since.

“We were married in July 1988 and moved first to Newcastle and then in the early 1990s to Ovingham – a small village in the Tyne Valley – with our elder daughter Emma. Our youngest daughter Lucy followed in 1997. In the centre of the village is an ancient church with a Saxon tower containing three bells – one dating from 1350, one from 1505 and the third from 1879. They were difficult to ring due to their age and the condition of the frame.

“Around 2008, a small group of us had begun to investigate installing a new ring of eight bells and by October 2009 we had launched an appeal to raise £100,000 to do just that. By this point I had been working in the financial sector for many years and was then Operational Director of Finance at Northern Rock. I was therefore well qualified to appreciate the challenge before us as we’d set our target in the middle of the deepest financial crisis the UK had seen in a generation.

“With the benefit of hindsight, our goal was extremely naive but enthusiastic.

“So we were quite staggered when, after numerous fundraising events – including a walk along Hadrian’s Wall – we achieved our target in just over 18 months. By January 2012 the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London, the same company that cast Big Ben, had installed our ring of bells in Ovingham.


“Tradition dictates that even if a bell is recast at a later date (for example, if it has cracked) any inscription on the original will be repeated as an enduring reminder of the donor. Ann and I sponsored a bell which now bears our names and those of our daughters, Emma and Lucy. But it also reads:

AIEN ARISTEUEIN – Ever to excel

in recognition of the fond memories that we will always have for St Andrews. We met there, we made long-lasting friends there and it has given us a sense of belonging and community that we have carried with us throughout many areas of our lives – including our careers.”



Guardian angels of business

Fourth year International Relations Student & Co-Founder of the University of St Andrews Alumni Angel Network (UStAAAN), Matthew Leonard, gives an overview of UStAAAN and its upcoming launch event in New York City. Matthew has recently been named among the 40 Under 40 by ‘Scottish Business Network News’.

Based in New York City, UStAAAN, the New York Chapter, is a group of St Andrews alumni, faculty, students, and the US community at large. We are working to create a sustainable network that will serve as a foundation to connect angel investing, entrepreneurship, and St Andrews. To this end we connect angel investors and advisors with innovative start-ups seeking capital and other support.


The St Andrews community has exampled a diverse range of entrepreneurial activity across the globe. Edinburgh based husband and wife duo, Lesley and Nigel Eccles Co-Founded Fantasy Sports giant, Fanduel. London based, Damian Kimmelman, Co-Founded Due Dil and was named International Entrepreneur of Year at the inaugural Tech City News Hall of Fame awards in June 2014. Whereas, San Francisco based, Japser Platz is a founder with fintech start up Tally, which closed a $15mn series A round in May 2016, led by Sasha Ventures.

St Andrews also offers a rich collection of innovative spin out companies. One such example, Xelect Ltd, provides specialist genetics support to the aquaculture industry and is led by world renowned Professor Ian Johnston. In March of this year Xelect closed a £170k seed round, led by EOS Technology Investment Syndicate. EOS itself was founded by serial entrepreneur and St Andrews alumnus Kevin Grainger which compounds the enterprising caliber of the University and its wider community.

UStAAAN endeavors to foster this entrepreneurial culture by connecting such like-minded individuals and providing the necessary infrastructure to allow alumni, students and faculty to grow their early stage ventures through access to capital investment and mentorship.


At events, alumni will have the opportunity to network with like-minded entrepreneurs and investors whilst also engaging with exciting early stage ventures from the St Andrews community.


New York Angels founder David Rose

Tuesday, 18 October 2016 will see UStAAAN launch in New York City. For the event, UStAAAN has partnered with Tiger 21, the world’s premier peer-to-peer learning network for high net worth investors, whose 440 members’ collectively manage in excess of $40 billion in personal assets.

The launch will be hosted in Tiger 21’s Manhattan Townhouse on the Upper East Side and guests will have the opportunity to enjoy a key note speech delivered by David Rose. David is the Founder and Chairman Emeritus of the New York Angels, Founder and CEO of Gust, and the New York Times bestselling author of both Angel Investing: The Gust Guide to Making Money & Having Fun Investing in Startups and The Startup Checklist: 25 Steps to a Scalable, High-Growth Business. Attendees will also be able to enjoy single malt scotch, wine, and hors d’oeuvres.


For more information on UStAAAN in NYC, please visit:

To join UStAAAN’s LinkedIn group please visit:

To keep up with UStAAAN on Facebook please visit: