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A historic day

In preparation for this years graduations we have compiled a list of historical events connected to the University that celebrate anniversaries in 2015.

The Valley of Fear
Illustration for "The Valley of Fear" (Frank Wiles, 1914)

2015 will be a memorable and significant year for our graduating students. They will always remember being part of the class of 2015 and events that share the date will forever retain a special significance.

As part of this year's graduation pack for students we hope to add additional historical significance to the day by highlighting relevant anniversaries. Current research has unearthed the following mix of facts, accomplishments and milestones from the world of sport, literature and science, aswell as social and military history.

25 years ago

1990 was the last time Scotland won the rugby union Grand Slam at Murrayfield.  Alumni Tony Stanger, Iwan Tukalo and Christopher Gray were all involved in the final, victorious, game against England, with Stanger the scorer of the winning try.

In 1990 Professor Adrian Bird was appointed to the Buchanan Chair of Genetics in the School of Biological Sciences at the University. He is the world’s leading expert in the gene MECP2, which causes Rett Syndrome when mutated. Professor Bird was knighted in the 2014 New Year Honours list. 

50 years ago

1965 was a turning point in the University’s history. Cowan House and Masson Hall, which were student residences located in George Square were demolished to make way for the University’s new Library, the foundations of which were laid in 1965.

The controversial Appleton Tower was also built in 1965, although it didn’t officially open until 1966.

100 years ago

The First World War was a watershed for the participation of women in university life. With nearly 8,000 students and graduates joining the armed forces, there was a steep decline in the number of male students, and a rise in the number of women matriculating.  The greater role played by women in university affairs was marked by the election of Agnes Cunningham as the first female Senior President of the Students' Representative Council in 1915.

In 1915 alumnus Arthur Conan Doyle published ‘The Valley of Fear’, the last Sherlock Holmes novel.

200 years ago

Walter Scott
Raeburn's portrait of Sir Walter Scott in 1822

'The Field of Waterloo', a poem by Edinburgh Law graduate, historical novelist, playwright, and poet, Sir Walter Scott was written and published in 1815. After the allied victory in June 1815, Scott was amongst the first British civilians to view the battlefield. Mixing personal observation with information gained from his escorts and from other participants in the battle, he began work on a poem, profits from which would go to a fund set up for widows and orphans of soldiers.

In 1815 Thomas Shortt graduated from the University as a Doctor of Medicine. In 1819 he was appointed Physician Extraordinary to the King in Scotland and Principal Medical Officer in St Helena. Though he never saw Napoleon professionally, he is remembered for drafting his official autopsy report.

300 years ago

Poet and playwright James Thomson started at the University in 1715 studying metaphysics, logic, ethics, Greek, Latin and natural philosophy. He completed his course in 1719 but chose not to graduate, instead entering Divinity Hall to become a minister. Thompson is known for his masterpiece 'The Seasons' and the lyrics of 'Rule, Britannia'.

What have we missed?

What else should be part of our anniversary timeline? Did something happen in 1615? Please contact us with your suggestions using the details below.

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