HE spent 15 turbulent years guiding the city’s largest educational organisation through change, growth and transforming it into a truly world player.
Last night it was Auld Reekie’s turn to honour outgoing outgoing Edinburgh University’s principal Timothy O’Shea ahead of his retirement in the New Year.
Professor O’Shea was presented with the prestigious Edinburgh Award 2017 after 15 years at the helm of the city’s largest educational hub.
Joined by friends, family and fellows from the University, Sir Timothy was presented with an engraved Loving Cup from the Lord Provost Frank Ross.
He was also recipient of a bespoke poem by the Edinburgh Makar, celebrating the difference he has made to the city and students of Edinburgh.
His handprints have already been immortalised on a flagstone outside the City Chambers, where they now sit next to those of the ten previous Edinburgh Award recipients, including fellow academic, Professor Peter Higgs.
Paying tribute, Edinburgh’s Lord Provost, Frank Ross, said: “Placing Scotland’s Capital on the world stage as a beacon of knowledge, research and further education; the University of Edinburgh promotes the city as an international leader for academic excellence.
“Driven in large part by Sir Timothy, the institution has expanded over the last 15 years and asserted itself as one of the top 25 academic institutions in the world under his watch.
“After successfully steering it through the challenges of the UK’s economic crisis, Sir Timothy has enhanced the profile of the University and, in doing so, the city for which he is thanked.”
He added: “Sir Timothy has done much to promote Edinburgh to the world and to support close to 10,000 FTE jobs, the education of more than 39,000 students, and invaluable academic research.
“I hope this award goes some way towards recognising all that he has achieved for and on behalf of the city.”
The award, first launched in 2007, was designed to allow citizens of Edinburgh to pay a lasting tribute to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the city.
Sir Timothy, who was knighted by the Queen in 2008 for services to Higher Education, thanked the council for their support and said: “As someone who loves the city and enjoys living and working here so much, I am delighted to receive this award.
“Having been Principal of the University for 15 years, and Chair of the Fringe for the past five, I have seen at close quarters how the council has helped both to flourish. The University and the Fringe have greatly benefited from the vision and energy demonstrated by councillors and officials.
“It has been an enormous pleasure to work with them in promoting Edinburgh.”
His replacement has been revealed as Peter Mathieson, who moves from his role as University of Hong Kong, embroiled recently in rows about so called “hate” and “free” speech.