University Medal: Air Vice-Marshal Ross Paterson CB OBE DL BSc PGCE FCIPD

Graduation Office
Monday 10 June 2024

Professor Tom Brown, Vice-Principal (Research, Collections and Innovation)

Monday 10 June 2024

Vice-Chancellor, it is my privilege to present Air Vice-Marshal Ross Paterson for the University Medal.

Following the completion of a degree in Biology and further teacher training, Ross was commissioned into the Royal Air Force as an officer in 1983. In his early career, he completed many significant achievements including the reorganisation of all RAF technical training and the creation of a new officer training course.

In 1998, Ross was appointed the Officer Commanding Administrative Wing at RAF Leuchars, beginning a close association with the University and the wider Fife Region which continues to this day. Whilst at Leuchars, he volunteered as a full member of the mountain rescue team and was involved in many call outs including aircraft crashes and search and rescue for people in distress in the mountains. He then served several years in Whitehall, where he was invited to join the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit.

In 2011, Ross was promoted to Air Vice-Marshal and following his retirement from regular service in 2015, he became Air Officer Scotland, the senior representative of the RAF in Scotland, as a part time reservist.

Principal in academic dress with University Medal winner in academic dress holding medal
Principal Professor Dame Sally Mapstone with Air Vice-Marshal Ross Paterson CB OBE DL BSc PGCE FCIPD, recipient of the University Medal, summer graduation 2024

As Air Officer Scotland, he developed a range of initiatives to encourage young people to consider careers in science, technology and engineering, and he supported the Scottish veterans community in addition to developing a range of charitable activities with a particular highlight being a flying experience scheme to allow young people with disabilities or from disadvantaged backgrounds to experience the magic of flight. Ross has also been a keen supporter of the East of Scotland Universities Air Squadron which has many student members from St Andrews.

Ross was awarded an OBE in 2001 for his charitable contributions and his mountain rescue service. In 2014, he was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath for his national work in supporting veterans and service families, and became an aide-de-camp to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in 2016. He has also found time in all of this to become a Deputy Lieutenant for Fife.

Within his role as Air Officer Scotland, Ross worked extensively to highlight the excellence of research within Scottish universities, including St Andrews, and to build connections between academia, industry, and government to provide new routes for this research to be used.

Ross has also been a major champion in developing a vision for a sustainable RAF – no easy task for a Service whose primary mission is to be able to deploy aircraft on a global basis – and he has worked closely with the University to support this aim. This is, of course, highly resonant with us as our own sustainability-focussed Eden Campus is situated as the former RAF Leuchars’ next door neighbour!

Working closely with the University of St Andrews, Ross has helped to bring together key players from the Services, government, and our world-leading researchers to enable the development of the UK’s role in global security. Ross has also helped to build links with major companies who continue to work with the University on our mission to see our research create an impact in building a sustainable environment for us all.

In 2023, Ross, finally, fully retired from the RAF following 40-years of committed service.

In supporting the University, Ross’s help has always been provided with a very cooperative spirit, with good humour, an underlying sense of compassion and a genuine interest in and for the University, its staff and students. From a personal perspective, working with Ross in recent years has been a real privilege, a pleasure and a highlight of my time at St Andrews.

Vice-Chancellor, in recognition of his major contribution to the Royal Air Force, dedicated charitable commitments and, development of new links to support the University of St Andrews, I invite you to present Air Vice-Marshal Ross Paterson with the University Medal.

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