USC Professor and Burns Scholar Earns Honorary Degree

June 24, 2009

COLUMBIA, SC – June 24, 2009 – The University of Glasgow has conferred an Honorary Degree on international Burns scholar Professor Ross Roy. Professor Roy, Professor Emeritus of English and Comparative Literature at the University of South Carolina, received his degree as part of the University’s Commemoration Day celebrations, when the founding of the University in 1451 is remembered by staff and former graduates.

The award of an Honorary Degree of the University is intended to honour a person whose contribution to their chosen field of endeavour marks them out from their peers, and it is intended as a recognition of the links between the University and the recipient.

Professor Roy received his Doctor of Letters degree from Professor Sir Kenneth Calman, Chancellor of the University of Glasgow. And after the ceremony Professor Roy, who has one of the most extensive collections of Burns in the world, was given ‘Burns on a chip’ – a copy of the complete works of Burns on a tiny electronic chip. Ten copies would fit on the head of a pin and it is believed to be the world’s smallest copy of the works of Burns.

Speaking after the ceremony, Professor Roy said said: “I am very honoured to receive this award. For my achievements to be recognised by the University of Glasgow is quite something for me. The whole event has been fantastic and I would like to thank all those who have been involved – the surroundings, the academic procession and the sense of occasion really added to the whole day. And receiving the Burns on a chip was a special highlight for me.”

Professor Roy was proposed for his degree by Dr Gerry Carruthers, director of the University’s Centre for Robert Burns study.

During the ceremony, Dr Carruthers praised Professor Roy’s achievements.

He said: “Professor Roy has overseen and facilitated many of the most crucial critical interventions in all periods of Scottish Literature during the past four and a half decades. In this year, 2009, we celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Robert Burns and so it is very apposite that we honour Professor Roy.”

Commemoration Day celebrates the foundation of the University of Glasgow in 1451 – also the year of birth of Christopher Columbus. The events comprise of a service for the Commemoration of Benefactors in the University Chapel; the conferring of honorary degrees by the Chancellor; and the Commemoration Day lunch. 

The current form of celebrations has been followed for over a century but its roots go back to the annual May banquet held first in 1492.