Papers of Sir Thomas Malcolm Knox, Principal of the University of St Andrews, 1953-1966

Scope and Content

The collection comprises: Diaries (14 volumes), 1953-68; personal papers; and miscellaneous papers arranged alphabetically in the following files:

Academic Advisory committee, 1964-66; Academic development committee (St Salvators), 1964-65;Administrative arrangements, 1953-63; Appointments to chairs; Bursaries and scholarships scheme, 1959; Carnegie Trust; Chapel buildings committee, 1947-57; Chaplains, appointment of, 1952-56; Colleges, powers of, 1950; Commonwealth Universities Congress, 1963; Education authorities (bursaries), 1952-61; Electronic computers, 1955-66; Entrance Board and scholarships; Establishments committee; European rectors and vice chancellors conference, 1959; Faculties of applied science, arts, law, medicine and social science; Fee revision, 1955-61; Fell, AP, 1957; Fifth University in Scotland, 1960-65; Four Courts, 1946-59; Honorary degrees committee, 1953-60; International association of Universities, 1952; Isotopes, 1956-59; Joint bursary examinations, 1952-64; Dr James Lawson; Lectureships, 1952-62; Medical planning committee, 1952-54; Ordinances, 1956-62; Oriental Studies, 1945-62; Orr case; Periodicals Committee, 1951-55; Principal and deans committee, 1953-63; Principalship, 1965;

Queen's College files: Academic development committee; New University, 1963-66; departments of Queen's College; Council, 1952-63, 1965-66; Dundee technical college (pharmacy), 1953-56; Fatal accident enquiry, 1966; Library, 1954-65; Planning enquiry, 1964-65; Residences, 1954-65; Training college, 1955-65;

Readerships, 1954-63; Rectors: Crawford, Kilmuir, Boothby, Snow, 1952-64; Roman catholic training college, 1947-48; Royal commission, 1951-52; Russell, Sir David and Major David, 1952-1962; Schweitzer, Albert, letter and photograph, June 1960; Scottish education department, 1958-1964; Scottish History (Sutherland) research scheme, 1950-54; Scottish Office, 1954-62; Sedbergh School, 1954-66; Statutory Commissioners; Students' Representative Council and Students' Union, 1954-67; Supplementary pensions, 1952-64; Third statistical account, 1951-64; Universities China Committee, 1954-66; Universities Grants Committee, 1952-66; Universities Scotland Bill (1966), 1962-66; University Court, miscellaneous papers, 1953-66; University of St Andrews Act, 1953-58; University of St Andrews Bill, 1953; University planning, North Haugh, road diversion, 1960-65; North Haugh, access roads, 1962-67; physics and mathematics building, 1960-65; purchase of Atholl Hotel, 1965-67; purchase of Royal Hotel, 1963;Vice Chancellor's Committee and Robbins and Sub-Committees; Younger Hall correspondence, 1939.

Anderson Committee Report on Grants to Students, 1960; Appointments board, 1952-67; Archaeological expedition to Cyprus, 1952-64; Association of American Universities, 1962-65; Bursaries Committee, 1958-67; Committee on Social Studies, 1963-65; General Assembly and Church Chairs, 1932-50; Graduations, 1954-67; Nuclear Research Reactor, 1960-67; Public Schools Commission, 1966-67; Rating 1956-67; St Salvator's College Council, 1953-67; Scandinavian visit, 1956-66; Visit of Schoolmasters to St Salvator's College, 1960-66; Scottish University Courts, 1960-66; Papers relating to new University of Dundee, 1964-66; West Burn Lane Site Enquiry.

Administrative / Biographical History

T. Malcolm Knox (1900-1980) was born in Birkenhead, educated at Bury Grammar School and the Liverpool Institute. He studied at Pembroke College, Oxford where he took a first in Classical Greats in 1923. As an undergraduate he was influenced by Collingwood, and developed his later love of Classical and German philosophy, a wide interest in letters and history and a preference for the idealistic School of Philosophy and especially Hegel. After graduating he took a post with Lever Brothers, first as Secretary to Lord Leverhulme and later in various managerial and executive posts including being in charge of the company's interests in West Africa.

He returned to academic life in 1931, after the death of his first wife in 1930, as lecturer and Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford. He also became Lecturer in Greek Philosophy at Queen's College. While teaching at Oxford he looked after both the business interests of the College and the Library. He was appointed as Professor of Moral Philosophy at St Andrews in 1936 where an older tradition of Philosophy still flourished. In 1947 he was appointed to the University Court.

At the time of his appointment to St Andrews in 1936 it was clear that there was already dispute between the St Andrews Colleges and University College, Dundee. These difficult relations dominated life in the University at this time. Knox was appointed Acting Principal from 1952-53 on the death of Principal Irvine due to the outstanding qualities he had already demonstrated as deputy-principal, professor and head of department. He was confirmed in office as Principal by Crown appointment in 1953.

His immediate task was to implement the recommendations of the Tedder Report and the changes in the structure of the university embodied in the University of St Andrews Act, 1953. This gave the University Court over-all financial control and instituted the two College Councils with a Master of the College in St Andrews and a Master of the newly named Queen's College, Dundee. Knox made it his personal task to reconcile the two sections of the University. However, the implementation of change was easier in Dundee than in St Andrews and Knox won the confidence of his Dundee colleagues. In St Andrews, where the bitter West Burn Lane dispute destroyed the over-all University plan, Knox had to represent the University Court and College Council against entrenched opposition. The final solution required a change of direction, resulting in the development of the North Haugh area outwith the centre of the old town. At his resignation in 1966 the two Universities of St Andrews and Dundee were about to separate and to expand in different directions.

Knox was a skilled and conscientious administrator, a prudent husbander of the university's finance, a wily committee-man, a coiner of sharp aphorisms, and a master of formidable silences. He earned the unstinted respect if not always the warm affection of his colleagues. He expected life to be difficult and the exacting academic and ethical standards he felt it his duty publicly to uphold made him a trenchant critic of much that was fashionable in university circles in the 1960s. Personal relationships never came easily to him but behind his sometimes inscrutable reserve were more human traits: a taste for music and theology, a considerable acquaintanceship with English history and literature, a connoisseur's appreciation of vintage claret, a genuine pleasure in giving hospitality and in doing small, unexpected kindnesses. His retirement was marked by further books, articles and reviews including more translations with commentaries from the writings of Hegel which had been his life-long interest as a philosopher.

(Alumnus Chronicle, article by JN Wright, no. 57, June 1966, pp. 11-13; Obituary by Norman Gash, Alumnus Chronicle, no. 71, June 1980, pp. 47-8.).


The arrangement of this material is generally chronological within each box, the boxes being arranged in alphabetical order by file title within each deposit.

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