Chukwuma-Ezike installed as University of Aberdeen Rector
Updated: Mar 27, 2022
Ceremony and procession take place alongside Live on the Lawn event
By Anttoni James Numminen
Martina Chukwuma-Ezike on Angus the Bull. Courtesy of Anttoni James Numminen.
Martina Chukwuma-Ezike has officially been installed as Rector of the University of Aberdeen, following in the steps of Maggie Chapman MSP, Winston Churchill, and Eric Linklater.
The ceremony in King’s College Chapel included member of the students’ association, senior University staff, local dignitaries and politicians, as well as more than 30 members of Chukwuma-Ezike’s family who had travelled from Nigeria to attend her installation.
The Rector holds a senior position within the university, a role to which she was elected last November by students.
“I am a symbol to represent that anything is possible.”
Following a rendition of Gaudeamus Igitur and a procession into the chapel, the new Rector was introduced and robed by the president of the students’ association, Alisa Koester.
Principal and vice-chancellor of the University, George Boyne, was not able to attend due to a family bereavement, and much of the ceremony was led by the pro-chancellor of the University, Sir Ian Torrance, KCVO.
“As a graduate of the University it is an honour to represent its students, and I look forward to working with AUSA and the student community to deliver on all the key issues raised in my manifesto, including mental health support, student safety and welfare, and employability skills” said the newly elected Rector in her speech.
She also spoke with warmth about the “strong sense of community” at Aberdeen University, and the “line of support and help” she had received during and after her studies, and her plan to continue that for other students.
In time-honoured tradition, the new Rector was carried around campus atop Angus the Bull by the UoA Kickboxing Team, followed by a colourful procession including the UoA chapel choir and Town Sergeant.
"As soon as I got up there, I was comfortable, and Angus was very nice and kind.”
The Live on the Lawn event took place at the same time, with thousands of students gathered for a surprisingly sunny day of festivities and activities organised by the University for the first time since 2019.
The Rector also addressed students from the stage on Elphinstone Lawn, introducing herself to students.
The Gaudie spoke to several students at the event, most of whom were not aware that the Rector installation would take place that day, or even of the existence of the position of Rector.
Live on the Lawn. Courtesy of Anttoni James Numminen.
Beth, a 4th-year student who came to take part in Live on the Lawn, told The Gaudie: “I knew there was going to be an event, but I didn’t know about the Rector Installation. I don’t know what the Rector does, and I didn’t vote in the election.”
The election of Rector was originally meant to be held in February 2021, but due to a complete absence of candidates, it had to be postponed.
Joe, a law student in the same year as Beth, said he “wasn’t particularly sure what the Rector does” and did not vote in the election last November either.
Meanwhile, Daniel, a 1st -year pharmacology and immunology student was also asked if he knew what the Rector does, replying: “I’m afraid not, no. I just came for Live on the Lawn, which is a great event… best thing I’ve seen at uni so far.”
But Bianca, a 4th-year legal studies and international relations student told The Gaudie the Rector “supports students” and she knew about the election last November but did not vote.
“I voted in the AUSA elections but didn’t really know about the Rector.” - Bianca, 4th-year student
In an interview with The Gaudie following her installation, Martina Chukwuma-Ezike said he had “a very exciting and humbling day, it’s a very proud moment for me and for my family.”
On finding out she would be carried atop the University’s mascot, Angus the Bull, she said: “initially it was terrifying, but as soon as I got up there, I was comfortable, and Angus was very nice and kind.”
Asked about low engagement in student politics, with less than 3 per cent of students voting in the Rector election, Chukwuma-Ezike told The Gaudie: “It wasn’t really surprising, with Covid-19 and everything that was going on.
Rector installation parade. Courtesy of AJN.
“Even when I was on campus every day for the campaign, there were rarely students here cause people were studying online, so a higher turnout than that would’ve been a miracle.
“I have set my goal, apart from my manifesto, is to ensure that students know what a Rector is and why a Rector is important and how they can access support through their Rector.
“And over time, we’ll be able to build that awareness, and not thinking that their consensus cannot be heard. Hopefully, we can build higher turnout for future elections.”