Author and the Macrobert’s first director among Stirling’s winter graduates

More than 800 students and esteemed honorary graduates have celebrated in a winter wonderland after graduating from the University of Stirling.

University Chancellor Dr James Naughtie conferred degrees at two ceremonies on Friday, 24 November, with acclaimed author Dr James Robertson and Anthony Phillips, the first director of the Macrobert Arts Centre, becoming honorary graduates.

Graduates left the morning ceremony to a light flurry of snow – creating the picture-perfect backdrop for their loch-side photographs.

Dr Robertson became a Doctor of the University at a morning ceremony, alongside graduates from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities and Faculty of Health Sciences and Sport. He is recognised for his outstanding contribution to writing in Scotland, for his work to extend the use of the Scots language, and for his role in highlighting the importance of political activism and participation.

A novelist, poet, editor and publisher, Dr Robertson has published six novels to date, including ‘The Testament of Gideon Mack’, which was long-listed for the 2006 Man Booker Prize, and ‘And the Land Lay Still’, the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year in 2010. He is also a passionate exponent of the Scots language and was the first writer in residence at the Scottish Parliament.

Dr Robertson said: “The University of Stirling was being built when I was growing up in nearby Bridge of Allan. I used to cycle along to watch the campus taking shape in the grounds of Airthrey Castle.

“To be made a Doctor of the University 50 years later is not only an honour but also, for me, the completion of some kind of circle. I have a great affection for the University and the liberal, challenging higher education that it has championed over those five decades. Long may it flourish.”


Mr Phillips was honoured at the afternoon ceremony, which celebrated those graduating from the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences and Stirling Management School. He received the award of Doctor of the University for his role in the creation of the Macrobert Arts Centre, located on the Stirling campus, and for his major contribution to classical music administration and scholarship, through his editing and translation of the literary legacy of leading Soviet-era composers.

Mr Phillips was appointed as the Macrobert’s first director in 1970 – before the centre was built – and was pivotal in making the arts central to the lives of staff, students and the community.

A fluent Russian speaker, Mr Phillips has translated various texts, the most notable being the ‘Sergei Prokofiev Diaries’, and is currently engaged in writing the life story of Victor and Lilian Hochhauser, the London impresarios who first brought the major Russian musicians and ensembles to Great Britain in the 1950s.

Mr Phillips said: “The realisation that the part I had the good fortune to play in the creation of the University’s visionary MacRobert Arts Centre, almost half a century ago, has now led to the unexpected award of this honour, makes it one of the most deeply satisfying experiences of my life.”

Role models

Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: “I am delighted to honour two outstanding individuals at our winter graduation ceremonies. They are role models to our graduands and embody the University’s values of excellence, ambition and openness.

“As an award-winning novelist, editor, poet and publisher, Dr James Robertson has made an outstanding contribution to writing in Scotland. In addition, he is a passionate exponent of the Scots language and has also enthusiastically encouraged political activism and participation.

“We also celebrate Anthony Phillips, who was appointed the first director of the Macrobert Arts Centre in 1970, before it officially opened to the public one year later. Since then, the centre – located at the heart of the University campus – has gone from strength-to-strength and today is a cultural hub offering everything from comedy, dance and music, to opera, art and film. The Macrobert’s success is due in no small part to the vision, ambition and hard work of Mr Phillips, who is also honoured for his major contribution to classical music, arts administration and literary translation.”

“I extend my congratulations to all of our graduands and honorary graduands on their hard-earned achievements."

The winter graduation follows recent University of Stirling ceremonies in Singapore, Oman and Inverness, and graduates will benefit from excellent job prospects with more than 96 per cent of graduates in work or further study within six months.

Photographs, social media and graduate stories from the winter graduation ceremonies are available at the Graduation Live website:

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