Elected: 1969
Discipline: Unspecified at this time
Professor Noel Farnie Robertson CBE FRSE
The partnership between the University of Edinburgh and the East of Scotland College of Agriculture, which was the Edinburgh School of Agriculture, was inherited from Sir Stephen Watson, but it was Noel Robertson who made it. Noel was shy, diffident and self-effacing, but he was fierce and resolute about his Edinburgh School of Agriculture. He created a seamless operation in which University and College staff worked together, shared resources, and gained an international reputation for agricultural research, education and advisory work. He ensured that both University and College staff contributed to all three sectors. His early years as Principal of the Edinburgh School of Agriculture were blessed with funds and he used them to good effect by both expanding and re-focusing the organisation.

The School was raised from its foundations in giving (literally) local advice to farmers, undertaking demonstration and development work at the Bush, and educating the rural community’s sons (and an increasing proportion of its daughters), to become a renowned centre of scientific experimentation, research-rich learning, and technology transfer (before that term found contemporary use). Noel made imaginative appointments in the early 70s and gave his protégés the space and the resources in which to prosper. New chairs were founded in animal production and crop production, and later in agricultural resource management. New staff (exampled by Frank Elsley) were appointed with research as their remit. The National Diploma in Agriculture was converted to the Higher National Diploma, and the University Degree incorporated into the Biology curriculum and given a new intellectual base.

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