The Rector was originally the active head of the University, exercising jurisdiction over all it members and elected by the votes of their nations. Under the novo erectio he was made president of the Senatus Academicus but was not a member of the Faculty; the office gradually became an honorary one, although until the end of the eighteenth century the Rector occasionally exercised visitorial functions. The Rector is now elected by matriculated students. The date of election was fixed by the original statutes for St Crispin's Day, October 25. It may now be held on any day in October or November.
Following the resignation of the actor, Ross Kemp (b. 1964), as Rector on 7 November 2000 , an election was held to find a replacement on 28 February 2001. There were originally five candidates for the position: Norman Blake from the Glasgow band Teenage Fanclub , independent candidate; Karen Dunbar from the BBC TV series Chewin' The Fat who was nominated by Glasgow University Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Gay and Trans-gender Society ; Greg Hemphill also from Chewin' the Fat who was nominated by Glasgow University Labour Club; the author and artist Alasdair Gray , nominated by Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association ; and Stuart Murdoch from the Glasgow band Belle and Sebastian , another independent candidate. Norman Blake withdrew early in the campaign, lending his support to Stuart Murdoch. This election was by the single transferable vote system. Greg Hemphill eventually won in the third round, beating Alasdair Gray by 101 votes. The University Senate therefore found that Greg Hemphill had been elected Rector of the University for a three year period beginning on the 28 February 2001.