Former First Minister The Rt Hon Jack McConnell has conferred degrees upon hundreds of graduating students after being installed as the University of Stirling’s sixth Chancellor.
Lord McConnell – a Stirling graduate – took up his official duties at a special ceremony today (June 25), where he was installed by Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gerry McCormac, before conferring degrees on students from the Faculty of Arts and Humanities.
Double-BAFTA award winning director Hamish Hamilton – who has produced and directed many of the biggest live shows on the planet – was bestowed an honorary doctorate during the event.
Lord McConnell, who will preside over a further four ceremonies over the next two days, said: “The University of Stirling is a special place. The campus community, the innovative course design and assessment, and the commitment to wider access have given this place a permanent home in the hearts of those who have studied here.
“I feel truly honoured to return to the University to serve as Chancellor, and I am looking forward to my first ceremonies this week when I can congratulate all graduates and honorary graduates on their achievements.”
Lord McConnell studied Mathematics with Education at Stirling – where he served as President of the Students’ Union and National Union of Students Scotland Vice-President – before going on to teach mathematics in local high schools. He received the degree of Doctor of the University in October 2008, in recognition of his contribution to public affairs.
Between 2001 and 2007, he served as First Minister of Scotland before being appointed to the House of Lords as Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale in 2010. He became a Vice-President for Unicef UK in 2015.
In one of his first ceremonial duties, Lord McConnell – who succeeds BBC journalist Dr James Naughtie as Chancellor – conferred an honorary degree on Stirling alumnus Mr Hamilton, who has produced and directed major global shows and events, including the Oscars, MTV Video Music Awards, and the Super Bowl Halftime Show.
Blackpool-born Mr Hamilton chose to study at Stirling because he loved the campus – and credits the University with changing his life forever. After graduating in 1989, Mr Hamilton worked for the BBC and, in 1998, founded the production company Done and Dusted, which today has offices around the world and has created events on every continent.
Reacting to his honorary degree, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to television producing and directing, Mr Hamilton said: “I’m honoured and thrilled to receive this doctorate.
“My time at Stirling radically changed the course of my life and opened up a new world of opportunity. The teaching staff, my fellow students and institutions – such as Radio Airthrey and the Students’ Union – propelled my life in a new and exciting direction. I am very grateful.”
Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling, said: “Graduation is a time of special celebration – and this year’s ceremonies are even more memorable, as they mark the installation of our new Chancellor, The Rt Hon Lord Jack McConnell. I warmly welcome home Jack – an alumnus of the University – to his new role and extend my congratulations to all of our graduands and honorary graduands on their hard-earned accomplishments.”
In total, 2,113 students will graduate at Stirling’s three-day graduation, which will also see Outlander star Sam Heughan; French World Cup winner Lilian Thuram; Whitbread CEO, Alison Brittain CBE; Scottish Grocers Federation CEO, Pete Cheema OBE; and retail expert, Professor John Dawson receive honorary doctorates.