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Chair of University Court Resigns

Ms Catherine Stihler OBE, Senior Lay Member and Chair of University Court has resigned.

In an email sent out to staff and students, Ms Stihler recognised the challenges of remaining in this role given the gradual return to meeting in-person.

She wrote, “My family and I moved in December to live permanently in California due to my work demands as CEO of Creative Commons. After some reflection and talking through the challenges with the Principal, VP Governance and Deputy Chair of Court, I have come to the decision that I can no longer perform the duties expected of me in the role of Senior Lay Member and Chair of University Court, particularly as we return to meeting in person this year.”

The decision was made after April’s Court meeting. The University Court is the governing body of the University, responsible for all aspects of strategic planning and the management of resources – financial, human and physical.

Ms Stihler has asked the Vice-Principal (Governance) to prepare urgent advice for Court on the steps necessary to begin the protracted process of recruiting a successor.

In the period before a successor is recruited, the Deputy Chair of Court will take on the responsibilities of Ms Stihler. This role is currently held by Professor Stuart Munro, who previously held Chair of Court position at the University of Edinburgh.

Ms Stihler praised Munro as “an experienced and wise hand and I want personally to thank him for rising to this challenge”.

Ms Stihler wrote that she has enjoyed her time as Senior Lay Member and the chance it has given her to get to know many staff and students, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

She wrote, “It is very bittersweet that I have to leave just at the time when there is so much to look forward to with the creation of a New College, getting to meet once again in person, and to see the strategic transformation of the University come to fruition. However, I am looking forward to keeping in touch and helping the University, particularly in terms of networking and fundraising.”

“St Andrews will always hold an extra special place for myself and my family and I know that I will help our very special institution in any way that I can.”

Ms Stihler studied for an MA (Hons) in Geography and International Relations at the University of St Andrews. She then continued studying for an MLitt in International Security Studies. Between 2014 and 2017 she served as the 52nd Rector of the university.

After graduating, Stihler worked in the House of Commons under Dame Anne Begg MP. She later became a politician herself and worked as a Member of the European Parliament for 20 years for the people of Scotland. As Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, she worked on digital policy, prioritising the digital single market, digital skills, better accessibility of digital products for the disabled, as well as citizen online data protection and privacy.

In 2019 she stepped down from Parliament and was awarded an OBE for services to politics. Since August 2020, she has been chief executive of Creative Commons, a non-profit organisation that helps overcome legal challenges to the sharing of knowledge and creativity to address the world’s challenges. It is the demands of this role which has influenced her resignation.

Image Credit: Stortinget on Flickr


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