Invitation only

April 4, 1997

Sir Stewart Sutherland, principal of Edinburgh University, is a worthy winner of this month's award for killing two birds with one stone. His visit to Australia as a founder member of the international superleague of universities, Universitas 21, meant he was unable to chair the first Edinburgh University lecture at the Edinburgh International Science Festival, in which Sir William Stewart, former chief scientific adviser to the Cabinet Office, considered whether Scotland needed its own science policy.

The lecture was chaired instead by Ed Weeple, Scottish Office under secretary of further and higher education, training and science. Mr Weeple was in no doubt that this was a cunning plan on Sir Stewart's part to ensure that "someone from the Scottish Office is here to take note of Sir William's message". Sir William said that the occasion reminded him of the time Maxwell Irvine, vice chancellor of Birmingham University, in his former post of principal of Aberdeen University, had been invited to speak at a local farming function.

When he later asked the convener how he thought the talk had gone, the comforting reply was: "Weel, son, I dinna blame you, I blame those that asked you."

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