Photo: Angela Radulescu
Photo: Angela Radulescu

Hillary Rodham Clinton, former United States Secretary of State, is to receive an honorary Degree of Laws as part of the celebrations for the 600th anniversary of the University of St Andrews.

She will give an eve-of-summit address as part of the 600th anniversary Graduation ceremony in Younger Hall on Friday September 13 and will be given an honorary Degree of Laws at the end of the evening.

A number of other international scholars and thinkers including well-known classicist Professor Mary Beard, inventor of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee and former Archbishop of Canterbury The Right Revd Dr Rowan Williams,will also be honoured at the ceremony.

The ceremony is one of a number of events that will take place to mark the 600th anniversary including a gathering of leading minds to debate the future of universities at a summit on Saturday September 14th.

St Andrews will honour Clinton in recognition of her roles as politician, diplomat and champion of education, human rights, democracy, civil society, and opportunities for women and girls around the world.

Before entering the political arena, Clinton was a prominent lawyer. She received her Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 1973, and has since co-founded a children’s legal advocacy non-profit in Arkansas (Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families) as well as becoming the first female chair of the Legal Services Corporation, a non-profit organisation founded by the US Congress which seeks to provide top quality legal assistance to those who cannot afford it.

Hillary married Bill Clinton in 1975, and would support him through two stints as governor of Arkansas until 1992. Following Bill Clinton’s election as President of the United States in 1994, Hillary entered the public political sphere as First Lady, and would go on to spearhead multiple healthcare initiatives throughout her husband’s eight years in office.

After Bill Clinton’s two terms as President, Hillary remained an influential political figure by serving as New York Senator from 2000-2008. She was the only First Lady ever to run for public office, as well as the first female New York Senate representative. In 2007 and 2008, Clinton made her historic campaign for President, winning 18 million votes, and more primaries and delegates than any woman had before.

Despite losing the presidential bid, Clinton’s considerable talents and political savoir-faire were not wasted. Obama recognised the achievements and potential of his former democratic adversary, and appointed Clinton as Secretary of State. She served in this role for four years, during which she dealt with various political crises and negotiated with world leaders.

Clinton was -and remains- an outspoken advocate for Internet freedom, orchestrating a vast and effective social media campaign for the US State Department.

St Andrews Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Louise Richardson commented:

“We are absolutely delighted that Secretary Clinton will join us and other distinguished guests from around the world as we celebrate 600 years of university education in St Andrews.

“In addition to traditional celebrations, we will mark the occasion by doing what universities do best, bringing creative and independent thinkers together to ask difficult questions and exchange novel ideas as we explore the role of universities in the centuries to come.

“As one of the most influential women in the world, Hillary Clinton, as stateswoman, senator, and policymaker never shied away from tackling difficult questions, working to make the world a better place, inspiring others, speaking out for the voiceless and striving ever to excel. We are honoured that she will participate in our celebrations.”

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