The faint sound of waves crashing on the West Sands beach and a by kR3B0u

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									The faint sound of waves crashing on the West Sands beach and a bagpipe
player’s music temporarily warmed the chilly air. These were the sounds our
group of 37 counselors from across the US and Canada heard as we made our way
to the Links Clubhouse situated on St Andrew’s Old Course and site of several
historic British Open final rounds.

This was a most fitting conclusion to our two-day tour of the University of St
Andrews, its programs, facilities and people - all of which left me excited about
Scotland’s oldest university and indeed the third oldest university in the English
speaking world, and among the top five universities for its teaching and research
in the United Kingdom.

One cannot escape the University’s connection with history. Remnants of a -
twelfth century castle and cathedral remain within a few blocks of the campus.
The University itself has several historic landmarks and buildings which have
withstood the test of time. St Salvator’s Quad, a model of medieval architecture,
continues to be utilized by the University and has been around since 1450. There
is also a twentieth century hall of residence by the same name which is located
adjacent to the Quad. An academic courtyard, named after Mary Queen of Scots,
and where a tree is said to have been planted by her, is the site of the world-
renowned Divinity School. The King James Library, one of twelve libraries and
where teaching at the University is said to have begun, now serves as a smaller
library for students studying religion and psychology. Parliament Hall, too, where
our group spent much of its time, once served as a classroom and debating hall.
The building continues to be used for frequent and lively debates.

It was obvious to many of us that the University of St Andrews has moved with
the times. The facilities we observed have been renovated and are in good
working order. Mixed with the old are also plenty of modern buildings on the
west side of the town, including a new £45 million Medical Sciences building
which is under construction and the University is also investing in a new £5
million research center to be completed in the next few years. The University
continues to update all of its classrooms and labs with state-of-the-art
equipment. While meeting lecturers from the chemistry and computer science
departments, we were shown modern laboratories, classrooms which included
smart boards, DVD players and overhead projectors.

The University appears ahead of its time in the area of research. I was surprised to
learn of the extensive research that has been, and continues to be, conducted
there. Among the many research projects, one involves a light-emitting sticking
plaster which will help revolutionize the treatment of skin cancer; a second
project identifies treatments which will reverse aspects of Alzheimer’s disease.

Our tour of the University included a partial tour of the town since the two are
closely intertwined. Our guide, wearing a traditional scarlet gown, shared student
experiences and traditions as we walked down narrow cobbled stone streets,
most of them lined with student apartments, shops or cafés. On two occasions,
he surprised us all by directing our attention to a design or engraving on the
pavement. On American campuses, student guides usually point out similar type
engravings where a school’s insignia or Latin motto might appear, but in this case,
our tour guide was informing us of where someone was burned at the stake.
Fortunately, he was referring to historical figures several hundred years ago and
not of individuals in more recent times.

In addition to the physical aspects of the University, its research efforts and its
setting, it was fascinating to walk the halls where other famous alumni have
traversed: alumni such as John Napier, inventor of logarithms, James Wilson, one
of the father’s of the US Constitution, Sir James Black, Nobel Prize recipient and,
most recently, Prince William of the royal family. A discussion with one US
student, a fourth year computer science major, led me to believe I might be
speaking with a future distinguished alumnus of the school as he shared with us
his research and close working relationships with faculty and peers. Meetings
with students such as this only added to my favorable impression of the
University.

The University’s Admissions office created an outstanding program, which gave us
an up close and personal perspective of the school. The two-day tour was packed
full of formal and informal meetings, but allowed us plenty of time to breathe and
enjoy special events including the farewell dinner.

On that final night of the tour, as I walked across the eighteenth fairway of St
Andrews’ Old Course, the lungs of the bagpipe player relaxed and the waves
crashing on the shores of the West Sands beach subsided. My mind wondered to
future greats, not of the golf course, but of the University where self-directed
learners, ambitious students and those who just might be brave enough to walk
to the tune of a different bagpipe player will not only thrive, but, I anticipate, soar
to even greater heights as a result of their unique undergraduate experience at
the University of St Andrews.

Kirk Blackard

Director of College Guidance

Christ School of Asheville, NC

								
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