First Woman Rector, 1988

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In 1988, Muriel Gray (1958- ) became the first, and so far only, woman to be elected Rector of Edinburgh University.

A novelist, broadcaster, and journalist, Muriel Gray was best-known to students in 1988 as the presenter of Channel 4's pop music show The Tube (1982-1987) and its arts review The Media Show (1987-1989). Her passionate and combative approach to broadcasting was a major factor in persuading students that she would be a powerful advocate on their behalf. Gray defeated three rival candidates:

Gray had been willing to stand down in favour of Susulu but was persuaded to stay in the race by students who wanted a 'working rector'. In her rectorial address Gray spoke powerfully in favour of making university education accessible to students from all social backgrounds, lamented the continuing male dominance of university posts, and expressed concerns that English students were increasingly being admitted at the expense of Scots.

Gray proved to be one of Edinburgh University's hardest-working rectors. She held a surgery dealing with both staff and student problems, and reached out to school-leavers to persuade them of the benefits of a university education. She was the first Rector to attend university open days and engage with prospective students.

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  • Donald Wintersgill, The Rectors of the University of Edinburgh 1859-2000 (Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press, 2005)