Srdja Popovic is Lord Rector of the University of St Andrews
Srdja Popovic is the Founder and Executive director of the Center for Applied Nonviolent Actions and Strategies (CANVAS), a non-profit organization based in Belgrade, Serbia that aims to teach the use of nonviolence to make a change.
He was born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia (then part of Yugoslavia), in 1973. Popovic played the guitar in a rock band and graduated from the Faculty of Biology in Belgrade, holding a Master’s degree (MA) in animal ecology. Since his early twenties, he has focused on activism, democracy and human rights issues.
In 1998, Popovic founded the student movement “Otpor!” (“Resistance!”), which played a crucial role in ousting president Slobodan Milosevic, the former Serbian dictator accused of war crimes. After Milosevic was defeated in 2000, Popovic was elected to the Serbian Parliament, where he served from 2000 until 2004.
Following his career in the Serbian Parliament, Popovic went on to found CANVAS, acting as its executive director ever since. CANVAS was created with the intent of teaching people all over the world about how to be successful in nonviolent conflict. So far, the organization has worked with activists from 46 different countries, spreading the knowledge of the nonviolent strategies and tactics used by Otpor! worldwide.
Apart from being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, Popovic was listed as one of the "Top 100 Global Thinkers" of 2011 by the Foreign Policy Magazine. And in 2014 he was listed as a "Young Global Leader" by the World Economic Forum in Davos. Popovic is also the author of the recent book Blueprint for Revolution.
The Rector's Assessor
The Rector's Assessor is a voluntary position, with the main role being to act as the link between the Rector and the student body, to aid and advise the Rector, and to sit on the University Court as a full member. The Assessor meets regularly with the Rector to advise on policy issues, discuss upcoming events and campaigns and ensure the Rector has a coordinated media and web presence in St Andrews. Contact details can be found here.
The Role of Rector
The role of the Rector is to preside at meetings of the University Court — the highest governing body of the University. The Court exists to oversee the management of the University, with special emphasis on strategic leadership and accountability. The Principal leads the actual management of the University, but he or she is also accountable to the Court, which comprises senior staff and a majority of unpaid, external, independent 'lay' members, meeting about four times a year. Court is the place where many University issues are decided — budget allocations, financial policies, academic policies, estate development and capital projects, staff and student provisions.
Since 1858, the Rector has been elected by the students. In addition to being President of the University Court, the Rector also plays an informal, pastoral role for students. The Rector can open doors and help to release log-jams where the formals mechanisms for resolving issues appear to fail. A Rector with the time, sincerity and commitment to get to know the student body and engage with their issues, and the skills to influence effectively, can make a valuable contribution to the student experience, as well as to the life and reputation of the whole University.