Laureation Address: Professor Stuart K Monro OBE FRSE

Graduation Office
Friday 14 June 2024

Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science
Laureation by Alastair Merrill Vice-Principal (Governance)

Friday 14 June 2024

Vice Chancellor, it is my privilege to present for the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, Professor Stuart Monro.

Stuart Monro is not only one of the UK’s leading geologists, but he has also played key roles in academic leadership and promoting public policy on Science.

An unapologetic Aberdonian, Stuart’s passion for science was inspired by his teachers at Aberdeen Academy. But he describes his academic achievements at school as “wobbly” and had to resit his Highers to get the necessary grades to attend the University of Aberdeen.

Tenacity and determination have been hallmarks of his career. At the British Geological Survey, Stuart focused on mapping and the application of geological data to environmental issues. He also encouraged the digitisation of geological data before it became fashionable.

He was the founding Scientific Director of Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, helping to establish it as one of Scotland’s leading educational and tourist attractions. And dynamic is an adjective very appropriately applied to Stuart.

His many leadership, education, and advisory roles include tutoring in Earth Science with the Open University; serving on the boards of the National Museums of Scotland and the Edinburgh International Science Festival; and being the first independent co-chair of the Scottish Science Advisory Council, advising the Scottish Government on science policy and the development of science education in schools.

He has been President of the Royal Scottish Society of Arts (twice) and the Edinburgh Geological Society (also twice) and was, until recently, a member of the council of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, of which he remains a Fellow. I could go on…

Stuart has also played a leading role in university governance. Governance is a bit like geology in that it is about understanding what is going on beneath the surface. Stuart’s knowledge of the shifting tectonic plates of university governance is second to none.

He served on the Council of the Open University, as vice-convener of the Court of Edinburgh University and, from 2014 at St Andrews, where he became Deputy Chair of Court in 2018 and, from 2022 until the beginning of the current Academic Year, Acting Senior Lay Member. In these roles, he was an influential voice across the HE sector, participating in the Committee of Scottish Chairs and its UK-wide equivalent, and serving as a member of the Scottish Board of the University Colleges and Employers Association.

In particular, he played a leading role in shaping the Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Governance, the equivalent of The Bible for University Secretaries such as myself.

Stuart was awarded his OBE for outstanding service to science in 2006, and other awards include the Distinguished Service Award of the Geological Society, the silver medal of the RSSA, and honorary degrees from the Open University, Heriot Watt, and the University of Edinburgh.

As a geologist, he truly rocks.

Vice-Chancellor, in recognition of his major contribution to science and to academic leadership and governance, I invite you to confer the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, on Stuart Monro.

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