I was a Divinity undergraduate at St Andrews between 1989–1993, graduating with a 2:1 Bachelor of Divinity in Practical Theology and Christian Ethics. I returned in 2006 to work as Assistant Information Architect/Web Manager.
St Andrews is a fabulous place to live and study in, and a fabulous place and work.
I had always assumed that I would go to university in Edinburgh, but after an open day at St Mary’s College in 1988 that all changed: St Andrews was the place for me. It was small and intimate. The kind of place that a quiet, wee Scottish Borders lad like me could cope with, without feeling overwhelmed by a noisy, busy city.
I was reorganizing my images folders on my PC this evening and came across this scan of a former Practical Theology lecturer of mine, The Rev Steven Mackie.
If I remember correctly I scanned this in 1992 after I had finished my final exams and was looking for creative ways to fill my days until the end of term. The idea was to create some kind of Andy Warhol-style matrix of portraits and get some t-shirts printed as a fun way to say thank you to him for his support through the previous 4 years.
It never happened. I spent most of the week hanging out in the cathedral grounds with friends, or holed-up in the (then very new) computer room creating a satirical/nonsense newsletter.
Out of interest I ‘googled’ his name and discovered to my sadness that the Rev Steven Mackie died in October of last year, aged 82 years old. His obituary in the Edinburgh Evening News said this about his time at St Andrews:
Steven was offered a post at St Andrews University to teach practical theology at Mary’s College, a post he held for 21 years until he retired to Edinburgh in 1995. He taught theology in a fully practical sense, relating it to social issues of the day. He was a gifted lecturer who made a deep impression on his students.
He did make a deep impression on his students. I was one of them, and I don’t have scanned photographs of any other of my former lecturers on my hard drive!
The first thing that I remember about Mr Mackie is that the first mistake that almost everyone made when they started at St Mary’s College was to pronounce his name “muh-KIE” (sounding like sky); the correct pronounciation was “MAH-kee”.
The second thing I remember is that his interests seemed to lie mostly in ecumenism and Liberation theology. Two areas of Practical Theology (which I finally took my degree in) that I wasn’t particularly interested in as a 17 year old. I kind of wish now that I’d paid a little more attention each week day between 10:00 and 11:00 during 1990-1991.
I remember Mr Mackie as a kind, very caring man who genuinely seemed interested in his students.
I was we’d made those t-shirts now.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon him.
Last month I had to do an online health and safety assessment exercise that determined my understanding of health and safety matters to do with sitting at a desk all day staring at a PC monitor. I’m happy to report that I scored 100%.
As part of the instructional part of the exercise I was shown the following image:
It’s of a man, an office-worker we are to assume, sitting at a desk, in front of a PC and beneath him it reads:
Every 20 minutes or so, re-focus your eyes on a distant object to allow your eye muscles to relax.
and there’s a call-out with an image of the Arc de Triumph!
Re-focus your eyes on a distant object it says. My word! What kind of eyesight did they expect me to have that I should have to gaze at the Arc de Triumph from St Andrews?! Google Maps UK reckons that’s over 760 miles. Hardly relaxing!
This week we are been mostly re-focusing our eyes on the Grand Canyon.
When I was a student at St Mary’s College (1989-1992), the Faculty of Divinity at the University of St Andrews, there was no such thing as the World Wide Web. So it feels a little surreal that I helped design, build and launch the website for my alma mater.
I always feel a certain anticlimax when a site goes live. You work on the site for months (this project began in July 2007), looking at it, checking it and tweaking it day in, day out for weeks, or over a couple of months in some cases, and then all of a sudden it’s live: open for public viewing, and comment.
It’s not like a book launch. There’s no launch party. No celebratory crowd. Just me alone in my office once everyone else has gone home, deleting a symbolic link here, and pressing a button to start the publish there. Then checking it all, making a few changes and republishing … and that’s it.
There are still a few bits and pieces needing done (a few 360° photos, and some Camtasia video screencasts introducing prospective distance learning students to our VLE: Virtual Learning Environment, an OpenSearch description document, and some general tidying up and optimizations of the code).
Then it’s on to the next project, which for me is to create some Camtasia screencasts of my own to explain the website layout to new students.