The Nisbet Lecture 29.11.11

The Nisbet Lecture 29.11.11

Muscatelli Lecture

Muscatelli Lecture

By all accounts (so far) this was a great success which, combined with the dinner and the Graham Short presentation last month, has seen the Colloquium get off to a great start. Thanks to all who helped in the foreground and the background. I offer my apologies for ‘disappearing’ relatively early last night.  I had become extremely anxious about the pending strike and wanted to open my school very early to give some colleagues access to work without the unpleasantness of crossing a picket line; some of us had no legal mandate to strike. With this in mind I had booked accommodation in Dundee and only got a few hours sleep.

I spoke with my boy Jack (15) about events. He was concerned that the ‘disruptive’ students might be excluded. I explained to him that one of the functions of a university in an open society is to permit freedom of speech and paradoxically they were only doing what they felt they had to; to be fair their protest was dignified in its own way although the point was laboured a bit too long. I thought Professor Muscatelli, Professor Davis and Professor Conroy dealt with the matter in a very measured and dignified way and that the events did nothing to take the shine from a very polished speech from someone who has a tacit and deep knowledge of higher education, economics and the interconnectedness of the two. We have been ver lucky as I mentioned in my introductory remarks to attract ‘big hitters’ who do the colloquium a great compliment by giving their time and effort.

It was a delight to deal with and meet Isabel and John Nisbet. Isabel has been very easy to deal with and most helpful in the lead up. Working at a disatance and over the internet one senses someone very mannerly and keen to keep her Father’s significant reputation alive (not that she needs to).  

Professor John (89). Is a ‘sharp’ man and he and I discussed a range of topics after the lecture. I mentioned to him that I has not been taught by Stanley but had been taught by many of his students –and that this was better than second best.

I was also a pleasure to meet Don Perry – our Webmaster who works closely with John K Cassidy. I do think the website has the potential to really launch the colloquium into a new orbit, and John K and I promised Isabel that this would remain a priority under this Chairmanship and those in the future.

Surely this short entry might now elicit responses on the Blog.

Please take part.

Thanks to all who attended the lecture last night and coped with the unplanned events; the lateness of the chairman, the passion of the protesters and the short but well managed confusion before the lecture kicked off.


Prof Walter Humes

Prof Walter Humes

John Cavanagh



PS Just in case you didn’t know Walter Humes recently won a medal. I am going a bit deaf and couldn’t quite get the context or the detail. I assume it may have been the ‘George Cross for Acerbic Wit’. I’ll ask him when I see him. Congratulations anyhow Walter (sincerely).



Medals typically Awarded for….

Conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against any enemy of the (….) State (…).

Scottish Review

The above of course is bunkum. 

Walter won one of two coveted Magnus Magnuson Medals for his contribution to the online journal Scottish Review.  Scottish Reviewis a paticularly worthwhile read and if, like me, you cannot get through it all then at least follow Walter’s consistently impressive observations on current affairs. His Medal was presented by Sally Magnuson.

Sally Magnuson

Sally Magnuson

Scottish Review can be found at:


Scottish Review

Scottish Review



Its project is described as follows:

 Scottish Review is published by the Institute of Contemporary Scotland (ICS). ICS was established in 2000 with Magnus Magnusson as its first patron and Kenneth Roy, its founder, as first director.
ICS aims ‘to stimulate discussion and revitalisation of thought and debate in Scotland’ and ‘to stimulate awareness and discussion of social, economic and cultural issues affecting Scotland and Scots through education and educational initiatives’.
In proposing the foundation of ICS, at a public meeting in Glasgow on 23 October 2000, the broadcaster Ian Mackenzie said its purpose was to be ‘undogmatic, to be intellectually free, and to encompass and share any aspect of life in our land, past, present and future’. He described it as ‘yet another effort to break free from narrow systems of thinking’.


About gswcolloquium

Chairman of the Educational Colloquium of the Universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde and West of Scotland.
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