The Rector

The primary role of the Rector is to preside at the University Court.

The Rector also chairs meetings of the General Council in absence of the Chancellor.

They work closely with students and the Edinburgh University Students’ Association.

Current Rector: Peter McColl

Peter McColl

Mr McColl came to Edinburgh in 1998 to read geography and holds both an undergraduate degree and Masters from the University.

He was Vice President of the Students’ Association from 2001-02 and had been President of the University’s People and Planet society prior to that.

After University Mr McColl worked as an advisor to Mark Ballard MSP, who was also Rector from 2006-2009.

Mr McColl was Mr Ballard’s assessor while he was Rector.

He McColl later worked for the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations.

Mr McColl was Chair of Transition Scotland Support from 2008-2011 and is an editor of the Bright Green blog.

In 2011 Mr McColl was voted one of the top 100 political bloggers, and was voted top Green blogger by Total Politics Magazine.


Enquiries to the Rector are handled by Joyce Morrison.

  • Joyce Morrison
  • University Secretary's Office
  • Work: +44 (0)131 650 9561

Previous Rectors

The position of Rector has a long and prestigious lineage. Originally created in the 19th century by the Universities Scotland Act 1858, the role has developed over time.

The position of Rector was initially filled by eminent politicians and military figures in the 18th and 19th centuries, including Sir Winston Churchill and the Rt Hon W E Gladstone.

In recent years rectors have come a broader range of Scotland’s public and cultural life, including television presenter Muriel Gray and the first Green politican Robin Harper MSP, all of whom have had some connection with Edinburgh.

Photo gallery

Photos from past rectorial elections, from as far back as 1920.

To view this photo gallery you may need Adobe Flash Player installed on your computer. You can also view the photographs on our Flickr channel:

List of previous Rectors

  • 2009 Iain Macwhirter
  • 2006 Mark Ballard
  • 2003 Tam Dalyell MP
  • 2000 Robin Harper MSP
  • 1997 John Colquhoun
  • 1994 Dr Malcolm Macleod
  • 1991 Donnie Munro
  • 1988 Muriel Gray
  • 1985 Archie MacPherson
  • 1982 David Steel (now Sir David Steel)
  • 1979 Dr Anthony Ross
  • 1975 Magnus Magnusson
  • 1972 Dr Gordon Brown
  • 1971 Jonathan Wills
  • 1968 Kenneth Allsop
  • 1966 Malcolm Muggeridge
  • 1963 James Robertson Justice
  • 1960 Joseph Grimond
  • 1957 James Robertson Justice
  • 1954 Sir Sydney A Smith
  • 1951 Sir Alexander Fleming
  • 1948 Alastair Sim
  • 1945 Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope
  • 1939 Sir J Donald Pollock, Bt.
  • 1936 Sir Herbert John Clifford Grierson
  • 1935 Viscount Allenby
  • 1932 General Sir Ian Hamilton
  • 1929 The Rt Hon Sir Winston Churchill
  • 1926 The Rt Hon Sir John Gilmour
  • 1923 The Rt Hon Stanley Baldwin
  • 1920 The Rt Hon David Lloyd George
  • 1917 Earl Beatty
  • 1914 Earl Kitchener of Khartoum
  • 1911 The Earl of Minto
  • 1908 The Rt Hon Geo. Wyndham
  • 1905 The Rt Hon Richard Burdon Haldane
  • 1902 Sir Robert Bannatyne Finlay
  • 1899 The Marquess of Dufferin & Ava
  • 1896 Lord Balfour of Burleigh
  • 1893 The Rt Hon J P B Robertson
  • 1890 The Rt Hon G J Goschen
  • 1887 The Marquess of Lothian
  • 1883 Earl of Iddlesleigh
  • 1880 Earl of Rosebery
  • 1877 The Marquess of Hartington
  • 1874 Earl of Derby
  • 1871 Sir W Stirling Maxwell
  • 1868 Lord Moncrieff
  • 1865 Thomas Carlyle
  • 1859 The Rt Hon W E Gladstone
Related links

Accessibility menu