This article is more than 6 years old

Electing cats and dogs: prominent animals in HE

It's all about animals with postnomials as Paul Greatrix explores what happens when pets win academic honours.
This article is more than 6 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

Over the years, many animals have achieved prominence in the world of higher education. We’ve noted here on Wonkhe before about the honorary degree awarded to a student support dog, the award of an online MBA to a Pug…

and the elevation of a horse to the very highest academic level. Indeed, not since the days of Caligula and his senator horse Incitatus had such high standing been achieved as by Lord Nelson, a horse who was awarded the title of professor by Rutgers University.

Wikipedia has an interesting list of cats and dogs with very entertaining names, ranging from Kitty O’Malley to Sassafras Herbert, who have all somehow managed to achieve academic honours.

But the latest bid for animal higher ed stardom is the attempt by students at Aberdeen University to secure the election of Buttons the cat as Rector of the University:

A group of students at one of Scotland’s oldest and biggest universities are fighting for a cat to become their new rector.

Buttons, a popular white cat who lives on the campus of the University of Aberdeen, has rallied support from hundreds of students online.

Alex Kither, a third-year history student and de-facto campaign manager for the white moggy, said that people were fed up with the student body not being represented.

The 21-year-old claims that only a small percentage of students actively participate in campus politics at the University of Aberdeen which leads to “small but vocal minorities” representing them.

Alex says that the cat has all the qualities of a good candidate because Buttons lives locally, interacts with students and is fluffy.

Alex said: “We’d like people to write to the university and let them know that they want Buttons to be a candidate.
“In just a few days we were able to engage with more students than any of the other candidates.
“Buttons has all the qualities of a good candidate – he lives on campus, he interacts with students and he’s fluffy which is a quality that none of the other candidates possess.

However, it does seem that the regulatory machinery of the University has stifled the furry feline’s electoral ambitions as it has ruled, accurately if disappointingly that

he does not meet the requirements to be a charity trustee and is not human.

We are definitely not a-mewsed.

Are there other examples of animals achieving high office in universities? Some must have succeeded in students’ union elections in the past, surely?

2 responses to “Electing cats and dogs: prominent animals in HE

  1. A gerbil was put up for Students’ Union president at Bristol University in (around) 1987, as figurehead of the opposition to the Great Education Reform Bill – I think there were some others around the country as well.

  2. There were gerbils in several of the sabbatical offices at Reading in the early noughties – they were cared for by the elected officers though, rather than having been elected themselves.

Leave a Reply