Quotations for the hiatus: John, Jack, Jimmy and Jim

DoF will be on hiatus for a few weeks as term approaches and I scurry about trying to prepare my classes. To keep our readers happily occupied, here’s a batch of quotations for you to ponder if you feel so inclined, which might (or might not) have something to say about the ways in which Scotland’s universities have¬†defined their place in society.

The first comes from John Knox’s First Book of Discipline (1560), which among other things set out what was to become the Scottish model of education for several centuries.

The grammar schools and of the tongues being erected as we have said, next we think it necessary there be three universities in this whole realm, established in the towns accustomed: the first in Saint Andrews, the second in Glasgow, and the third in Aberdeen…

And in the first college, which is the entry of the university, there be four classes or seiges: the first, to the new supposts, shall be only dialectics; the next, only mathematics; the third, of physics only; the fourth of medicine. And in the second college, two classes or seiges: the first, in moral philosophy; the second in the laws. And in the third college, two classes or seiges: the first, in the tongues, to wit, Greek and Hebrew; the second, in divinity…

Item, that the rector and all inferior members of the university be exempted from all taxations, imposts, charges of war, or any other charge that may onerate or abstract him or them from the care of their office… to the effect, that but trouble, that one may wait upon the upbringing of the youth in learning, that the other bestow his time only in that most necessary exercitation.

All other things touching the books to be read in each class, and all such particular affairs, we refer to the discretion of the masters, principals, and regents, with their well-advised councils: not doubting but if God shall grant quietness, and if your wisdoms grace to set forward letters in the sort prescribed, ye shall leave wisdom and learning to your posterity, a treasure more to be esteemed nor any earthly treasure ye are able to provide for them.

The second comes from the will of Professor John Anderson, known to his students as “Jolly Jack Phosphorus”. This will was the document which founded Anderson’s University, the oldest of the ancestors of Strathclyde.

Except what is contained in the Painted Chest, with three Locks, as above narrated, I Give, Grant, Dispone and Convey the whole of my other property, of every sort, to the Public for the good of Mankind and the Improvement of Science, in an Institution to be Denominated “Anderson’s University”…

This Institution is called an University, because that word has long been entirely appropriated to a Literary Body and for the purpose of giving Degrees: whereas tho’ the word College is often applied to a Literary Body for the education of youth, yet it is likewise often applied to bodies, the object of whose Institution is the Mechanic Arts, or Health or Commerce, and many other things totally different from learning…

Though it is probable that many of these thirty six Professors [nominated in his will] will not accept, yet it is proper for me to nominate the whole number, that the nature of the four Colleges, and of the University may be distinctly understood; and in the course of time perhaps from these small beginnings, this Institution may become a Seminary of Sound Religion; Useful Learning; and Liberality of Sentiment.

(The entire will is given as an appendix to J. Muir, John Anderson: Pioneer of Technical Education and the College he Founded; John Smith and Son, 1950.)

The third quotation comes from the famous public address given by Jimmy Reid in 1971 when he was elected as Rector of Glasgow University.

To the students I address this appeal. Reject these attitudes. Reject the values and false morality that underlie these attitudes. A rat race is for rats. We’re not rats. We’re human beings. Reject the insidious pressures in society that would blunt your critical faculties to all that is happening around you, that would caution silence in the face of injustice lest you jeopardise your chances of promotion and self-advancement. This is how it starts and before you know where you are, you’re a fully paid-up member of the rat-pack. The price is too high. It entails the loss of your dignity and human spirit. Or as Christ put it, “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his soul?” …

In this context education has a vital role to play. If automation and technology is accompanied as it must be with full employment, then the leisure time available to man will be enormously increased. If that is so, then our whole concept of education must change. The whole object must be to equip and educate people for life, not solely for work or a profession. The creative use of leisure, in communion with, and in service to our fellow human beings can and must become an important element in self-fulfilment.

Universities must be in the forefront of development, must meet social needs and not lag behind them. It is my earnest desire that this great University of Glasgow should be in the vanguard initiating changes and setting the example for others to follow.

The fourth comes from our own Strategic Plan, setting out the direction of Strathclyde under our current Principal, Professor Sir Jim McDonald.

As a university we educate students and we create, transmit and preserve knowledge. Being a technological university embraces all our academic subjects, from science and engineering to the humanities and social sciences. Fundamentally, our identity as a technological university comes from the principle of using our research and education for the benefit of humankind. We are committed to doing this through partnerships, recognising the mutual benefit achieved by interacting with people who share our ambitions. For our ideal of a place of useful learning to be real, the relationship between our research and education and their application in the broader community must be seamless…

We were created to challenge the idea of what it means to be a university and we continue to challenge it. We are confident but not complacent — if we are unable to ask questions of ourselves we cannot ask them of others. Our effectiveness as a place of useful learning requires that we think critically about how we go about our work, so that we can be most innovative and entrepreneurial. Over the next five years, we will position ourselves effectively to deal with future challenges.


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