First Minister opens GCU New York

08 April 2014

Scotlands First Minister Alex Salmond opens GCU New York

Scotlands First Minister Alex Salmond opens GCU New York

The New York campus of Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) has been officially opened by Scotland’s First Minister, the Rt. Hon. Alex Salmond MSP.

To mark the occasion, the First Minister presented the inaugural Caledonian Lecture to a distinguished audience of around 120 guests. Mr Salmond also unveiled a plaque to commemorate the opening of the satellite campus, based in Wooster Street in Manhattan’s SoHo district.

The First Minister was introduced by the Principal and Vice Chancellor of GCU Professor Pamela Gillies CBE who said it was a privilege to welcome Mr Salmond and referred to the University’s commitment to the ‘common good’ as part of a wider vision GCU shared with the Scottish Government.

“As a University committed to work for the common weal or the common good, we share the First Minister’s vision of striving to improve the national wellbeing of the people of Scotland, whilst also recognising our ability to help solve real-life global problems,” said Professor Gillies.

“As a lifelong and passionate advocate for social justice and for the transformative power of education for all, whatever our background or circumstances, I am sure you will all share my anticipation to hear our speaker’s insights this evening.”

The event, on April 7, was opened by GCU Student President Matt Lamb, who together with the Principal, the Chair of Court Tony Brian, the Vice-President of GCU NY Cara Smyth and the President of NYC Economic Development Corporation Kyle Kimball had formally welcomed Mr Salmond to the new campus.

In a wide-ranging speech, the First Minister spoke about Scotland’s immense contribution to global development, from past inventions – “the list is so long that an American historian, Arthur Herman, went so far as to assert that Scotland had invented the modern world” – to current initiatives, including climate justice research in which he said GCU is playing a significant role.

The First Minister said that Glasgow Caledonian University’s decision to establish a campus in New York continued a long tradition of Scottish educational influence in the USA, adding: “In the 17th and 18th centuries, Scottish universities were recognised as models for some of the leading American centres of learning; including Princeton – at that time the College of New Jersey, where John Witherspoon from East Lothian was a very influential president – Brown, Pennsylvania; William & Mary, and Columbia here in New York. 

“The campus also demonstrates this university’s growing global reach. Glasgow Caledonian already welcomes students from more than 100 countries. You have associations with universities in Brazil, China, the USA, South Africa and India.

“Your Chancellor, Muhammad Yunus, is known round the world as a champion of equality, sustainable prosperity and justice – to the extent that he has been recognised with a Nobel Peace Prize, a US Congressional Gold Medal and a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

“His values are reflected in the wider work of the University. They shone through in the passion for social justice, and especially gender justice, demonstrated by my good friend Professor Ailsa Mackay – the feminist economist who made a significant contribution to public policy, and whose recent passing was mourned by so many across Scotland and internationally.

“They are also shown by the Climate Justice resource hub you established last October, partnered by the Mary Robinson Climate Justice Foundation.  And we can also see them in action here in New York. They are shown by the close ties you have established with the United Nations, as a signatory to the UN’s Principles for Responsible Management Education.

“They are also demonstrated by some of this campus’s early initiatives on ethics and sustainability in the fashion industry.