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Rector of the University of Glasgow

The tower of the University of Glasgow above Kelvingrove Park

The Lord Rector (more commonly known just as the Rector) of the University of Glasgow is one of the most senior posts within that institution, elected every three years by students. The theoretical role of the Rector is to represent students to the senior management of the University and raise issues which concern them. In order to achieve this, the Rector is the statutory chair of the Court, the governing body of the University.

The position's place in the university was enshrined by statute in the Universities (Scotland) Act 1889, which provided for the election of a Rector at all of the universities in existence at the time in Scotland (being St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Edinburgh). Students of the University of Dundee also elect a Rector.

The current Rector is Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor and whistleblower, the first American and first fugitive to serve in this capacity. Snowden's appointment is purely symbolic.


  • Former Rectors 1
  • Nations 2
  • List of Rectors 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5

Former Rectors

Students have not always voted for working rectors; anti-apartheid activists Winnie Mandela (1987–1990) and Albert Lutuli (1962–1965) were elected on the understanding that they would be unable to undertake the position's responsibilities, while Mordechai Vanunu (2005–2008) was unable to fulfil his duties as he was not allowed to leave Israel and Edward Snowden (2014-present) is not expected to fulfill his duties due to an ongoing self-imposed exile in Russia. However, other recent Rectors have been elected on the presumption they will be working rectors, e.g. Ross Kemp (1999–2000), who resigned from the post after the Students' Representative Council voted to request his resignation, such was the extent of student dissatisfaction with his performance. At the Rectorial election in February 2004, no nominations for the post of Rector had been received. Upon the end of Greg Hemphill's term, the University was left without a Rector for the first time in the position's history. The University Senate set another election date for December, when Mordechai Vanunu was elected.


Until 1977, for Rectorial election purposes, the University was divided into four 'nations' based on the students' birthplace, originally called Clidisdaliae, Thevidaliae, Albaniae and Rosay, and later as Glottiana, Loudoniana, Transforthana and Rothseiana. Three of the 'nations' consisted of defined areas in Scotland, with Loudoniana consisting of students from all other places.[1]

List of Rectors

17th Century University of Glasgow Rectors
Years Name Nationality Biography
1648-1650 Robert Ramsay  Scotland Clergyman
1690-1691 David Boyle  Scotland Lord Clerk Register
1691-1718 Sir John Maxwell of Nether Park  Scotland Commissioner for Renfrewshire in the Scottish Parliament
18th Century University of Glasgow Rectors
Years Name Nationality Biography
1691-1718 Sir John Maxwell of Nether Park  Scotland Commissioner for Renfrewshire in the Scottish Parliament
1718-1720 Mungo Graham of Gorthie  Scotland Commr. justiciary for Highlands
1720-1723 Robert Dundas, of Arniston, the elder  Scotland Lord President of the Court of Session
1723-1725 James Hamilton of Aikenhead  Scotland
1725-1726 Sir Hugh Montgomerie of Hartfield  Scotland
1726-1729 George Ross  Scotland Master of Ross, 13th Lord Ross
1729-1731 Francis Dunlop of Dunlop  Scotland
1731-1733 John Orr of Barrowfield  Scotland
1733-1738 Colin Campbell of Blythswood  Scotland
1738-1740 George Bogle of Daldowie,  Scotland Glasgow Tobacco Lord
1740-1742 John Graham of Dugalston  Scotland
1742-1743 John Orr of Barrowfield  Scotland
1743-1746 George Bogle of Daldowie  Scotland
1746-1748 Sir John Maxwell of Pollock  Scotland
1748-1750 George Bogle of Daldowie  Scotland
1750-1753 Sir John Maxwell of Pollock  Scotland
1753-1755 William Mure of Caldwell  Scotland
1755-1757 John Boyle  Scotland The 3rd Earl of Glasgow
1757-1759 Patrick Boyle, Lord Shewalton  Scotland
1759-1761 James Milliken of Milliken  Scotland
1761-1763 The 15th Earl of Erroll  Scotland Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland
1763-1764 Thomas Miller  Scotland Lord Glenlee, Lord Advocate
1764-1767 William Mure of Caldwell  Scotland
1767-1768 Dunbar Douglas  Scotland The 4th Earl of Selkirk
1768-1770 Sir Adam Ferguson of Kilkerran  Scotland
1770-1772 Robert Ord  Scotland
1772-1773 Lord Frederick Campbell  Scotland Parliamentarian, Lord Clerk Register
1773-1775 Charles Schaw Cathcart,  Scotland 9th Lord Cathcart, General (British Army), Ambassador to Russia
1775-1777 Sir James William Montgomery  Scotland Lord Advocate, Chief Baron of Exchequer
1777-1779 Andrew Stewart of Torrance  Scotland
1779-1781 The 7th Earl of Lauderdale  Scotland Representative peer
1781-1783 Henry Dundas  Scotland Lord President of the Court of Session
1783-1785 Edmund Burke  Ireland Philosopher
1785-1787 Robert Graham of Gartmore  Scotland Parliamentarian, former student
1787-1789 Prof. Adam Smith  Scotland Professor of Moral Philosophy, author of The Wealth of Nations, former student
1789-1791 Walter Campbell of Shawfield  Scotland
1791-1793 Thomas Kennedy of Dunure  Scotland
1793-1795 William Mure of Caldwell  Scotland
1795-1797 William McDowell of Garthland  Scotland
1797-1799 George Oswald of Auchencruive  Scotland
1799-1801 Lord Succoth  Scotland Lord Justice General
19th Century University of Glasgow Rectors
Years Name Nationality Biography
1799-1801 Lord Succoth  Scotland Lord Justice General
1801-1803 Lord Craig  Scotland
1803-1805 Robert Dundas of Arniston  Scotland Lord Advocate, Chief Baron of Exchequer
1805-1807 Henry Glassford of Dugalston  Scotland
1807-1809 Archibald Colquhoun of Killermont  Scotland Lord Advocate
1809-1811 Archibald Campbell of Blythswood  Scotland
1811-1813 Lord Archibald Hamilton  Scotland parliamentarian
1813-1815 General Thomas Graham  Scotland The 1st Baron Lynedoch, General (United Kingdom)
1815-1817 Lord Boyle  Scotland Lord Justice Clerk
1817-1819 George Boyle  Scotland The 4th Earl of Glasgow
1819-1820 Kirkman Finlay  Scotland Lord Provost of Glasgow
1820-1822 Francis Jeffrey  Scotland Senator of the College of Justice, former student
1822-1824 Sir James Mackintosh  Scotland Jurist
1824-1826 Henry Brougham  Scotland Lord Chancellor 1830-1834
1826-1829 Thomas Campbell  Scotland Poet, former student
1829-1831 The 3rd Marquess of Lansdowne  England Chancellor of the Exchequer
1831-1834 Henry Thomas Cockburn  Scotland Senator of the College of Justice
1834-1836 Lord Stanley  England a later Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1836-1838 Sir Robert Peel  England 2nd Bt., the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1838-1840 Sir James Graham  Scotland 2nd Bt., Home Secretary
1840-1842 The 2nd Marquess of Breadalbane  Scotland parliamentarian, former Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland
1842-1844 Fox Maule  Scotland parliamentarian and a later Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Scotland
1844-1846 Andrew Rutherfurd  Scotland Lord Advocate
1846-1847 Lord John Russell  Scotland Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1847-1848 William Mure of Caldwell  England classical scholar, parliamentarian
1848-1850 Thomas Babington Macaulay  England Parliamentarian
1850-1852 Sir Archibald Alison, 1st Bt.  Scotland Institutional legal writer
1852-1854 The 13th Earl of Eglinton  Scotland a former (and a later) Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
1854-1856 The 8th Duke of Argyll  Scotland parliamentarian
1856-1859 Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton  England writer and politician
1859-1862 The 8th Earl of Elgin  Scotland Viceroy of India 1862-1863
1862-1865 The 3rd Viscount Palmerston  England Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1865-1868 Lord Glencorse  Scotland Lord President of the Court of Session
1868-1871 The 15th Earl of Derby  England a former (and a later) Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs
1871-1877 Benjamin Disraeli (1st Earl of Beaconsfield from 1876)  England Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1877-1880 William Ewart Gladstone  England Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1880-1883 John Bright  England Quaker, activist
1883-1884 Henry Fawcett  England economist and parliamentarian
1884-1887 Edmund Law Lushington  England Professor of Greek
1887-1890 The 1st Earl of Lytton  England former Viceroy of India
1890-1893 A.J. Balfour  Scotland former Chief Secretary for Ireland and a later Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1893-1896 Sir John Eldon Gorst  England Solicitor-General for England and Wales
1896-1899 Joseph Chamberlain  England statesman, father of Sir Austen Chamberlain (Rector 1925-1928)
1899-1902 The 5th Earl of Rosebery  Scotland former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
20th Century University of Glasgow Rectors
1899-1902 The 5th Earl of Rosebery  Scotland former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1902-1905 George Wyndham  England Chief Secretary for Ireland
1905-1908 H.H. Asquith  England Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1908-1911 The 1st Earl Curzon of Kedleston  England former Viceroy of India, Foreign Secretary
1911-1914 Augustine Birrell  England Chief Secretary for Ireland and poet
1914-1919 His Excellency Raymond Poincaré  France President of the French Republic and a former (and later) Prime Minister of France
1919-1922 Andrew Bonar Law  Scotland Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, former student
1922-1925 The 1st Earl of Birkenhead  England Lord Chancellor
1925-1928 Sir Austen Chamberlain  England parliamentarian and statesman
1928-1931 Stanley Baldwin  England Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
1931-1934 Compton Mackenzie  Scotland novelist
1934-1937 Sir Iain Colquhoun  Scotland 7th Bt.
1937-1938 Dick Sheppard  England pacifist
1938-1945 Sir Archibald Sinclair  Scotland 4th Bt., Leader of the British Liberal Party
1945-1947 Sir John Boyd-Orr  Scotland physician, nutritionist and Nobel laureate (former student)
1947-1950 Walter Elliot  Scotland politician (former student)
1950-1953 John MacCormick  Scotland lawyer and famed nationalist (former student)
1953-1956 Tom Honeyman  Scotland physician, director of Kelvingrove Art Gallery (former student)
1956-1959 Rab Butler  England became Home Secretary while rector and a former Chancellor of the Exchequer (and a later Foreign Secretary)
1959-1962 Quintin Hogg  England The 2nd Viscount Hailsham, Lord President of the Council (and a later Lord Chancellor)
1962-1965 Albert Lutuli  South Africa President of the African National Congress and Nobel Peace Prize laureate (Absentee)
1965-1968 The 1st Baron Reith  Scotland former Director-General of the BBC
1968-1971 George MacLeod  Scotland The Baron MacLeod of Fuinary
1971-1974 Jimmy Reid  Scotland trade union activist
1974-1977 Arthur Montford  Scotland sports journalist
1977-1980 John L. Bell  Scotland Elected while a student at the University
1980-1984 Reginald Bosanquet  England TV newsreader
1984-1987 Michael Kelly  Scotland Lord Provost of Glasgow
1987-1990 Winnie Madikizela-Mandela  South Africa wife of Nelson Mandela (Absentee)
1990-1993 Pat Kane  Scotland musician, former student
1993-1996 Johnny Ball  England TV presenter
1996-1999 Richard Wilson  Scotland actor
1999-2000 Ross Kemp  England actor
21st Century University of Glasgow Rectors
2001-2004 Greg Hemphill  Scotland actor, former student
2004-2005 Position vacant
2005-2008 Mordechai Vanunu  Israel Israeli nuclear technician and whistle-blower (Absentee)
2008-2014 Charles Kennedy  Scotland former Leader of the Liberal Democrats, former student
2014- Edward Snowden[2]  United States computer professional/intelligence whistleblower (Absentee)


  1. ^ Historical perspective for Glasgow
  2. ^ Edward Snowden elected as rector of Glasgow University

External links

  • Student Representative Council description of post (includes link to detailed charter)
  • Who, where and when: the History and Constitution of the University of Glasgow
  • University of Glasgow Story
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