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New Rector for University of Aberdeen

Robin Harper has been elected to serve as Rector of the University of Aberdeen.

The results were announced tonight (May 12) by Professor Stephen Logan, University Senior Vice-Principal.

Mr Harper said: “I’m absolutely delighted. I have a long connection with Aberdeen since I graduated from the University in 1962 and there has not been a year when I have not visited.

“I have also been a frequent speaker at the University debater and I have friends in Aberdeen who I visit regularly.

“I’m really looking forward to working with the present team who are fantastic and future teams at the Students’ Association.”

The new appointment was welcomed by Professor C Duncan Rice, the University Principal. He said: “I am delighted to welcome Robin Harper as the new Rector for the University of Aberdeen.

“The Rector plays an important role in representing and supporting our students and I am confident that Mr Harper will serve them well.”

Role of Rector:
The Rector, an ancient post dating back to the foundation of the University in 1495, has been, since 1860, the students’ representative on the University Court. Rectors serve for three years and appoint to the Court a Rector’s Assessor. Students’ interests are further served on the Court ex-officio by the President of the Students’ Association.

The Rector of the University of Aberdeen has two main roles. Firstly, the Rector has the right to preside at meetings of the University Court, and secondly, he or she is available to represent the students, particularly in welfare matters.

Presiding at meetings of the University Court One of the Rector’s rights is to preside at meetings of the University Court, which is the governing body of the University, in so doing, the Rector has a duty to seek to ensure the smooth running of meetings and to facilitate effective contributions to the work of the Court from its members. He or she has a crucial role in exercising impartiality and in ensuring that all sides of a discussion are freely aired. No member of the Court is present as a ‘representative’ of a particular sectional interest. However, each member brings his or her particular expertise and background to the work of the Court and, for example, the President of the Students’ Association and the Rector’s Assessor both have a detailed knowledge of and interest in student affairs. The Rector’s authority as ‘President’ of the Court exists only at Court meetings: he or she has no delegated powers at other times. In the absence of the Rector, the Court is chaired by a Vice-Chairman elected for this purpose by the Court (normally every three years).

Representing Students Representing students in matters affecting their welfare is the second of the Rector’s two main roles. The sabbatical officers of the Students’ Association and the various welfare services within the University undertake a great deal of work with and for students. However, the Rector has a uniquely independent position: he or she is closely linked both to the Students’ Association and to the University authorities but is not a part of either. That enables him or her to exercise the influence of the distinctive Rectorial position to advance student interests. To assist in this role, each Rector has the right to nominate to membership of Court a Rector’s Assessor who acts as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the Rector when the latter is absent from the University. It is customary for the Rector to ask for the views of students, not least through the Students’ Association, before choosing his or her Assessor. The Rector normally holds regular surgeries in Aberdeen and, during his or her absence, the Rector’s Assessor provides continuity of support and attends to practical arrangements. Rectorial surgeries are advertised in advance in Gaudie, the student newspaper, and give individual students the opportunity to make a personal approach to the Rector.

General Students elect the Rector from a choice of candidates all of whom are proposed by members of the student body. The term of office of the successful candidate runs for three calendar years.

The position of Rector of the University of Aberdeen has a long tradition behind it and is prized by students as a way of ensuring that, in the University’s governance, due regard is paid to matters that are of importance to the student body.


Notes to Editors

Issued by the Communications Team, Office of External Affairs, University of Aberdeen, King's College, Aberdeen. Tel: (01224) 272014.

Issued on: Thursday 12th of May 2005

Ref: 1686rector
Contact: Jennifer Phillips

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