On Friday 20 February, the University will swear in its 52nd Rector since 1859, Catherine Stihler, MEP. Stihler will join a long list of accomplished names who have previously held the post of Rector, with some of the more famous names including the philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, author J.M Barrie and actor John Cleese, to name just a few.
As is the case with many events in St Andrews, the installation of a new rector is one encompassed with tradition. Despite the fact that Stihler will not officially be sworn in until the installation ceremony on 20 February, the process actually begins the day before with the Rectorial Drag on Thursday 19 February.
A statistic I’m sure many who have visited St Andrews can recite is that this tiny town holds the record for most pubs per square mile in the United Kingdom. Whether that’s actually true or not, I don’t know for certain, but the Rectorial Drag is a chance for Stihler to meet some of the students she’ll be representing and lobbying on behalf of whilst sampling some of our fine pubs along the way. The ‘Drag’ will begin at 1:50 pm in St Salvator’s Quad, where Stihler will enter on some form of “surprise transportation” – previous rector Alistair Moffat charged in on a horse – before giving an address to the students who have gathered. She will then make her way around various pubs in the town, with each pub housing students from a few societies, who will get a chance to talk to her and present her with a gift. The day will then end with a torch lit procession, which will leave from in front of Younger Hall at 7:45 pm.
The official installation ceremony will take place at 11:45 am on Friday 20 February in Younger Hall, where students can gather to hear the new Rector address them in a speech centered around a theme or value; J. M Barrie’s for instance centered around the need for courage.
Tickets are still available on the Union website, and are free. However, given possible demand, students are urged to make sure to get one quickly to avoid not being able to see the ceremony.