Patriarchitecture – diverse naming for University buildings

Following successful from lobbying by the SRC the University has agreed to begin naming and renaming buildings on campus to reflect the diversity of the University community.

Now is the time to reflect on how the University recognises women and minority groups for their achievements. The University on the verge of beginning a massive redevelopment of main campus and soon new buildings will spring up, old ones torn down. Currently only one building on campus is named after a woman, Queen Margaret Union building. This is despite the enormous contribution that female and other alumni from marginalised groups have made to the University and to society.

The SRC raised this with the Principal and other senior managers before bringing policy to the University’s Equality and Diversity Strategy Committee and Estates Committee. The Policy was unanimously adopted and will form a central part the campus redevelopment.

When the University was founded in 1451 it was a male only institution. The first females graduated in 1894 after a change in Scottish law and since then we have produced world changing female graduates. It is about time we recognised their achievements.

Jessie Campbell, Isabella Elder and Janet Galloway were instrumental in giving access to higher education for women in Scotland. They founded the Queen Margaret College, the precursor to the Queen Margaret Union which remains today.  Marion Gilchrist and Ruth Pirret were amongst the first women to graduate in Scotland thanks to the College. Pirret, who graduated in Pure Science, would go on to discover isotopes with Fredrick Soddy only to be snubbed when Soddy alone was awarded a Nobel Prize for the discovery. In 1967 Jocelyn Bell Burnell discovered pulsars and, like Pirret, was snubbed when her supervisor Tony Hewish and Martin Ryle were awarded a Nobel Prize.

The University also has notable black alumni. The first African-American to graduate with a degree in medicine was James McCune Smith who graduated from Glasgow in 1837. Born a slave he was freed in 1827 in New York but was denied entry to American universities. He applied to Glasgow and was achieved a BA, an MA and an MD.

Andrew Watson was Scotland’s first black football player. He studied engineering and was captain of the national Scottish football team, playing for them three times. He never turned professional but predates the first professional black football player, Arthur Wharton, by a decade.

Image credit: University of Glasgow



  1. [email protected] · 2 February 2015 at 11:03a

    is this what we are focusing on now? Naming and renaming of the buildings… all it does is to add additional admin costs! It is time that SRC does what it is meant to do, focus on student welfare a bit more. Fight against excessive accommodation charges, 24/7 library access, fight the rights of students, reach out to those under stress and pressure. Renaming buildings is ridiculous!

  2. ewan · 2 February 2015 at 11:03a

    Why have the campaign? The SRC has reps on Senate and Court why not just pick a famous Glasgow female academic pick a building and put a motion through to rename it? Or is campaigning about an issue more important than doing something about it?

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