On Commemoration Day we remember "the care bestowed by the Magistrates and Town Council of the City and Royal Burgh of Glasgow upon the preservation of the University in times of civil warfare and commotion." The text refers primarily to the refoundation of the College in 1573, which helped restore the University's fortunes after a period of worrying uncertainty.
The Reformation and the social upheaval which followed had serious consequences for the University, which had been dependent on the Church for its income and leadership. By 1563 its buildings were dilapidated and, even after Queen Mary's foundation of five bursaries that year, the Town Council believed that "through excessive poverty the pursuit of learning has become utterly extinct". To restore the fortunes of the College and promote the teaching of the liberal arts in the city, the Town Council refounded and re-endowed the College by a charter issued in January 1573.
The charter provided for the transfer to the College of the revenues from chaplainries, prebendaries and altarages that had had been bestowed on the town by the Queen in 1567. It also made provision for fifteen people - the Principal, two regents and twelve poor students nominated by the Town Council - to live in the College. The constitution and curriculum were rewritten and a new code of discipline was imposed. For the first time, teachers were permitted to marry "if they be not able to bear the life of chastity and cannot contain themselves", but women were not permitted to visit the College buildings or grounds.
The refoundation of the University in 1573 had important consequences. The new revenues proved difficult to collect but the financial position of the College was at least stabilised and it was able to attract a figure of the stature of Andrew Melville to take the post of Principal in 1574. Melville was the mastermind behind the next great leap forward in the history of the University, the Nova Erectio of 1577.