Tributes have been paid to former St Andrews University principal and internationally renowned scientist Professor Struther Arnott, who has died at home in Doncaster, aged 78.
Professor Arnott, who held the top post at Scotland’s oldest university from 1986-99, was praised by former St Andrews colleague Professor James Naismith, who said: “The legacy of Struther is that St Andrews University is now a centre of scientific excellence. When he came here in the 1980s we had a choice to be excellent at science or not, and now we are. He made that choice.”
Born in Larkhall, he was educated at the Hamilton Academy where he received the Academy’s Gold Medal for General Scholarship and Silver Medal in chemistry and in maths. He won fifth place overall and first science place in the Glasgow University open bursary competition in 1952.
Following graduation (BSc chemistry and mathematics) in 1956, followed by PhD (chemistry 1960), Professor Arnott worked with the Biophysics unit of King’s College, London, before his appointment as professor of molecular biology at Purdue University, Indiana. At Purdue he was vice-president for research and dean of the graduate school for six years.
In 1986 he returned to the UK where he took up the post of principal and vice-chancellor of St Andrews University.
Professor Arnott was a Fellow of Kings College, London, the Royal Society, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Institute of Biology. He was also a Nuffield Fellow at Green College, Oxford, and visiting senior research fellow at Jesus College.
He was given an honorary Doctor of Science degree from St Andrews, Laurinburg, in 1994 and made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire two years later.
He was also twice a member of the US National Academy delegations to the former Soviet Union and has received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Purdue University.
Professor Naismith said that in his younger days, Professor Arnott managed Larkhall Thistle FC and was friends with the late First Minister Donald Dewar.
North East Fife MP Sir Menzies Campbell said: “The growth of the university into the world class institution which it is now is due in very large measure to his foresight and energy.”
Professor Arnott is survived by his wife Greta and a grown-up family.