Nobel accountancy

December 26, 1997

Glasgow University's staff newsletter has uncovered what is possibly the earliest recorded example of a university moving funds from one budget to another.

Alan Cooper, in an article celebrating 250 years of chemistry at Glasgow, reveals that in 1747, Glasgow found itself with a surplus of Pounds 30, saved from the salary of a professor of oriental languages who had decided to take a year's leave of absence. William Cullen, later to become professor of medicine, had been pressing for chemistry teaching as part of his reorganisation of the medical faculty, and promptly applied for the spare cash to found a lectureship in chemistry. The Pounds 30 proved a valuable investment, with two Glasgow graduates and two former academics subsequently winning the Nobel prize for chemistry.

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