Sean Connery awarded an honorary degree

Sean Connery (1988, courtesy University of St Andrews)

As a native of Edinburgh, Sir Sean Connery’s connection with Scotland started long before he received an honorary degree from the University of St Andrews. After serving in the Royal Navy, working as a bricklayer and coffin polisher, and competing for the title of Mr Universe in 1950, Connery rose to fame as an actor in 1958, when he was cast opposite Lana Turner in Another Time, Another Place. Four years later, he was cast as James Bond, a role he defined over six 007 films.

Made an honorary Doctor of Letters by St Andrews in 1988, Connery began a relationship with the university and the town that continues today. He serves as a patron of the Byre Theatre, as well as the student-run arts festival On The Rocks. For the past two years, he has surprised organizers and staff by personally calling to offer his support and best wishes for the festival, and apologizing for not attending.

In receiving an honorary degree, Connery joined an elite group from the film world, including filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, actor Michael Douglas, and actor and comedian John Cleese (who also served as Rector from 1970-73). Outside of film, his fellow degree recipients include names like Rudyard Kipling, JK Rowling, Bob Dylan, and Arnold Palmer.

For Connery, his commitment to St Andrews arises from his famed loyalty to Scotland, viewing the university as one of the best in the world: “Scotland has a few precious claims to be world class – her first university is one of them.” The golf connection doesn’t hurt either, as Connery, an avid golfer, was also the winner of the Bing Crosby golf tournament in 1995.

Retired from acting since 2004, Connery made a brief 2009 appearance in a Homecoming promotional video for the university. Recently, he came out of retirement for the second time in support of St Andrews, announcing he will contribute to a documentary charting the university’s official history in honour of the 600th anniversary in 2013.

Chelsea Wessels