Graduation week, celebrating Honorands: medics, mathematicians and sportspeople

Friday 23 June 2017

Today graduates from the Schools of Management, Economics and Finance, Mathematics and Statistics and Medicine will be receiving their degrees in the Younger Hall. To commemorate these ceremonies, we will take a look at some of the Honorary Graduates celebrated in these fields from years past.

Emeritus Professor Ian W Campbell, MD 2010

Emeritus Professor Ian W Campbell was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD) on Friday the 25th of June 2010. Professor Campbell, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, served as a Consultant Physician in the Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy for 31 years. The laureation by Professor Hugh MacDougall paid tribute to his “immense service to the community in Fife” and his “prodigious research output”. Professor Campbell has an international reputation as an expert in diabetes and metabolism, co-authoring five text books, contributing chapters to 34 textbooks and authoring around 160 refereed papers in the medical journals. In addition to his stellar publication record he has raised over £2.5 million for diabetes research in Fife. In recognition of his teaching commitment to students from Edinburgh and St Andrews, Dr Campbell was awarded an honorary professorship at St Andrews in 1996.

Professor Michael Atiyah, DSc 1981 (centre), with Principal and Vice Chancellor J Steven Watson and Sir Kenneth Dover, also receiving an honorary doctorate at that ceremony

The eminent mathematican, Professor Michael Atiyah was awarded the Honorary Degree Doctor of Science (DSc) in 1981. Obtaining his BA in 1952 and doctorate in 1955, both at Trinity College, Cambridge, Professor Atiyah was elected to the Royal Society at the age of 33 and won the prestigious Fields Medal in 1966. Dr Finlayson’s laureation address, held by the Special Collections Division of the University Library, praises Atiyah’s insight, his understanding of the connections between the diverse branches of Mathematics and quotes from Atiyah’s address to the London Mathematical Society in which he stressed the importance of a broad view of the subject and the simplicity of mathematics:

“Both unity and simplicity are essential since the aim of mathematics is to explain as much as possible in simple terms.”

Dr Finlayson’s laureation address to Professor Michael Atiyah (UYUY344)
Professor Bernard Silverman, DSc 2014

In 2014, Professor Bernard Silverman was awarded the Honorary Degree Doctor of Science (DSc) in recognition of his major contribution to statistics. As Professor Rosemary Bailey stated in her laureation address, Professor Silverman research in statistics has been ‘wide-ranging, both methodological and applied’. Silverman, designer of the first ever programmable pocket calculator, the Sinclair Cambridge, has demonstrated the application of his methods in a number of areas, publishing papers “on cot death, on materials science, on positron emission tomography, on how ants build their nests, on the pathology of mediaeval bones, and on human genetics”.

Putting his “mathematical and statistical expertise to good effect”, Professor Silverman became Chief Scientific Adviser to the Home Office in 2010. He is also an Anglican priest.


While the majority of students graduate during the June ceremonies, for others their graduation happens in the Martinmas semester. This is often around St Andrews day and frequently honours Scottish achievement.

Sir Alex Ferguson, LLD 2002 (centre) with Andrew Neil, LLD and Baroness Rennie Fritchie, LLD

Sir Alex Ferguson was awarded the honorary degree Doctor of Laws in November 2002. At the ceremony, Principal and Vice- Chancellor Dr Brian Lang, said:

“The University is proud to honour, on the eve of St Andrew’s Day, three prominent Scots who have, in their own distinct ways, made a significant contribution to Scottish life. Sir Alex Ferguson’s impressive record does not need repeating – he has brought great achievement to the sporting life of this country.”

Sir Jackie Stewart, DSc 2008

Sir Jackie Stewart was one of five ‘great Scots’ granted an honorary degree on the 27th November 2008. In recognition of his Formula One achievements, Sir Jackie was made an honorary Doctor of Science (DSc). Sir Jackie, nicknamed ‘The Flying Scot’, is three time winner of the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship (1969, 1971 and 1973) and is ranked in the top fifty Formula One drivers of all time.

Sarah Rodriguez
Reading Room Administrator

Many of the photographs featured this week were produced for the University by staff photographer Peter Adamson. Both negatives and prints are held in the Special Collections Division of the University Library and images are available from the Publications Office.

Related topics

Leave a reply

By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.


Enter your email address here to receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,499 other subscribers.