In the next two days, students will have the opportunity to elevate a new Senior Lay Member to the University Court, a vital representative of student opinion on the university’s most powerful governing board.
The elections, which will take place from November 28-29, will see Chancellor’s Assessor Adrian Greer and former Rector Catherine Stihler stand for election to the University Court, the university’s senior governing body akin to the board of directors of a major corporation.
Adrian Greer currently sits on the University Court as the Chancellor’s Assessor and has held this office for more than three years. The current chairman of the Health and Safety Group and future chairman of the Remuneration Committee, Greer spent the bulk of his career working for the British Council, where he rose through the ranks to become Chief Operating Officer. In this capacity, he traveled throughout sub-Saharan Africa, Russia, and East Asia, a wealth of global experience his biography claims will bring an international perspective to the role. He is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a graduate of St. Andrews.
His candidacy statement points to his long relationship with the university stretching nearly fifty years. He highlighted his current membership on the University Court as vital to his ongoing positive relationships with other members of the court, saying, “I believe I have earned the trust and support of my colleagues.” He describes his leadership style as “calm, measured, inclusive and collaborative”, pointing to his experience as an accountant and member of the British Council as proof of his financial and international acumen.
Catherine Stihler currently serves as CEO of the Open Knowledge Foundation, a non-profit focusing on open data and its global implications. She served as the 52nd Rector of St Andrews from 2014 to 2017, notably working to create the Inspirer Lecture series and Rector’s Fund. Before becoming Rector, she served as a Scottish representative in the European Parliament, rising to Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee and leader/founder of the All-Party Library Group, which defends libraries in the digital age. She helped pressure the World Health Organization to recognize sudden infant death syndrome and led awareness campaigns on COPD. She earned a MA and MLitt degree from St Andrews, where she also met her husband.
Her candidacy statement stresses her 20 years of political experience and promulgates her platform of #ABC: access for disadvantaged students, budget and financial stability, and community (ensuring the university flourishes locally, nationally, and internationally).
The Senior Lay Member is a crucial proxy for the thousands of students at the university, one of five members of the University Court directly elected by the student body. Under the Higher Education Scotland (Governance) Act 2016, all universities must have a Senior Lay Member, and the position will replace the soon-defunct Senior Governor of Court in August 2020. If and when Srdja Popovic, Rector and University Court President, is absent from court proceedings, the Senior Lay Member will instead preside over meetings and is tasked with assuming all the responsibilities of chairperson.
The University Court itself is a vital component of university governance which wields enormous influence over every aspect of university policy, from tuition and fundraising to educational standards and residential policies. Its 23 members represent staff, students, alumni, and outside voices looking to make St Andrews the best it can possibly be.
Criteria for the Senior Lay Member include ‘extensive experience of strategic leadership and governance’, relevant experience in managing university environments, familiarity with board proceedings, proven ability to enthrall and engage the variety of interest groups in the St Andrews’ ecosystem, and a proven dedication to the mission and ideals of the university.
Open meetings were held on Monday 25 November with Greer and Stihler further explaining their platforms and making their case for their election. Videos of the afternoon and evening can be viewed here.
Students will receive an email notification on Thursday 28 November with their unique log-in information and details about voting procedures.