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Last Updated: Friday, 10 March 2006, 16:01 GMT
New university rector is welcomed
Simon Pepper
Simon Pepper was elected rector over TV chef Gordon Ramsay
Scotland's oldest university has welcomed its new rector.

Former WWF Scotland director Simon Pepper has promised to be accessible to the students who elected him during his time at St Andrews University.

He beat off competition from TV chef Gordon Ramsay to be elected to the role of rector at the Fife institution.

At a ceremony to mark his arrival at the university, Mr Pepper used part of his speech to deliver a warning about the danger of climate change.

The environmentalist pledged to be a "working rector" and "not an absentee who parachutes in just to chair the court".

'Dangerous' change

Mr Pepper welcomed the fact that the environment was playing a greater part in mainstream politics, adding: "The new, really compelling dimension of climate change, for example, is its urgency.

"The evidence is that we are on course to trigger really dangerous change in the next 50 years unless we take serious evasive action.

"The danger is that we ignore or deny it for too long, exhausting the potential for relatively painless remedy - which does exist, if we can change our ways.

"We can't go on consuming as if there were another couple of planets like this one zooming round the sun. The sooner we start, the less difficult it will be."

Mr Pepper, who was director with WWF Scotland for 20 years, also serves on the boards of the deer and forestry commissions and advises Scottish ministers on sustainable development.

He will serve a three-year term as rector, chairing the University Court and acting as an advocate of students.

Past St Andrews rectors include John Cleese, Nicholas Parsons and Clement Freud.

St Andrews tries to curb elitism
01 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Freud named as St Andrews rector
26 Oct 02 |  Scotland

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