In 1451, the Scottish King James II persuaded Pope Nicholas V to grant a bull authorizing Bishop Turnbull of Glasgow to establish a university. Modeled on the University of Bologna, Glasgow was, and has remained, a university in the great European tradition. The University fostered research and inquiry preparing the way for the Industrial Revolution which played such an important role in the development of Glasgow. Among its many illustrious former students are William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), Adam Smith, and Nobel laureates, John Boyd Orr (Peace Prize, 1949), Sir Alexander Robertus Todd (Chemistry, 1957), Sir Derek Barton (Chemistry, 1969), and Sir James Black (Chemistry, 1988).
Today the university is one of the UK's leading universities with an international reputation for its research and teaching. There are almost 16,000 undergraduate and 4,000 postgraduate students. The University of Glasgow has sought to broaden access to university education for all sectors of society. There are ten faculties: Arts; Biomedical and Life Sciences; Mathematics and Statistics; Physical Sciences; Medicine; Social Sciences; Engineering; Law and Financial Studies; Veterinary Medicine; and Education.
Some of the notable Gifford lecturers at the University of Glasgow include: Friedrich Max Mueller, Arthur James Balfour, William Temple, Carl Friedrich von Weizsacker, Herbert Butterfield, Carl Sagan, Keith Ward, and Ralph McInerny.