Interview: Louise Richardson on the 600th Celebrations


Last Monday I sat down to chat with our Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Dr. Louise Richardson, about more or less everything St Andrews. We talked about a typical day in the life of the Principal, achievements and challenges, teaching, fee hikes and much more. Here is what the Principal had to say about the Kate Kennedy Club, Kate Kennedy Fellowship, and, more importantly, the 600th Anniversary celebrations.

In regards to the recent moves by the Kate Kennedy Club to allow female membership, the Principal said “I am absolutely delighted that the Kate Kennedy Club has voted to accept women and I look forward to seeing female members of the club. And then I look forward to the town and the University, and the club collaborating together on the Kate Kennedy Procession, which is such a wonderful occasion, and it seems to me that everybody of this community needs to have ownership of it, not just a small group.”

“One of my objections to the Kate Kennedy Club, was that I felt that no small group has the right to arrogate to themselves exclusive ownership of our traditions, so I certainly hope and imagine the Fellowship evolving in a different way, but also celebrating other traditions.”

When asked about the 600th Anniversary celebration,the Principal really lit up and you could tell she was genuinely excited about the festivities, both in terms of the history and celebrations, but also what it could potentially contribute to the University of St Andrews. Here are the top 5 events the Principal is looking most forward to:

Papal bull bike relay

The event, which is one of the Principal’s personal favourites, will involve six teams of six people cycling 60-70 miles per day to retrace the route of the papal bull, which conferred university status on St Andrews in 1413. The route, which was plotted by a student of the history department interning at the Principal’s office, will trace the path of the Papal bull from Peñíscola, Spain, where Pope Benedict XIII was living when he issued it to St Andrews. The university will provide the bikes and the Principal has volunteered the Principal’s office to be the first team. Richardson said,“I hope we get teams of students and staff, people from different parts of the university, volunteering to create teams”. The plan is that the final team will cycle into St Andrews on September 13, 2013, the day of the bigacademic celebration of the 600th Anniversary.

St Andrews float in Lord Mayor of London’s Procession

This coming November the Lord Mayor of London is being installed in a televised procession, and the University of St Andrews has been invited to have a float in the parade. There will be a competition among students and staff to come up with the best representation of St Andrews. The winner will be flown to London to partake in the event. Richardson suggested this might be a wonderful thing for the Kate Kennedy Fellowship to get involved with.

‘Ever to Excel’ film premiere

The film commissioned on the history of the University of St Andrews, is narrated by and stars James Bond himself, Sean Connery. The film is a part of gala event to raise awareness and funds for the university.It will premiere on May 16 and May 19, in New York and Los Angeles respectively. A screening will take place in St Andrews on May 24.

St Paul’s Cathedral Carol Service

On December 20, 2012, St Paul’s Cathedral in London will host a carol service to mark the 600th Anniversary of the University of St Andrews. The event, organized by the London alumni club, is expected to boast the carol service of all carol services.

Academic celebrations of the 600th anniversary

On September 13 and 14, 2013, honorary degrees will be given to leading figures around the world. The celebration will also include a procession through the town, which will be modeled loosely on the 500th celebrations, as well as a concert with specially commissioned music. On the second day there will be panels of experts talking about their fields in addition to a major summit on the future of the university.

Details on how to apply for the bike relay and the decoration of the float will be announced in due course on the 600th events website.

Read the full interview in The Saint, out Thursday, May 3, where Principal Richardson discusses her role at the university, fee hikes, teaching, student advice, challenges, achievements, and the future of our school.


  1. Very much look forward to the bike relay project. Please let us know in Spain and we will make sure that they will be well received all through the route in Spain and south of France where we have good contacts and friends.

    Excellent article with good suggestions.


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