The University of the Highlands and Islands has appointed Professor Todd Walker as their next principal and vice-chancellor.

Professor Walker is currently provost and deputy vice-chancellor at University of New England, which operates several campuses in the state of New South Wales, Australia. He leads the academic, quality, and indigenous portfolios at University of New England and is the chair of UNE Partnerships, a registered training organisation delivering further education.

He is an accomplished clinical cytologist with strong teaching, research and consultancy credentials. He has a degree in medical biotechnology, a PhD in molecular oncology and a graduate certificate in university leadership and management, all from Charles Sturt University.

He has worked in multi-campus, regional universities in Australia for over 20 years including, Charles Sturt University, University of Ballarat and Federation University Australia, where he co-led the creation of the university through the acquisition and merger of the Gippsland campus of Monash University as deputy vice-chancellor (engagement).

Garry Coutts, Chair of the University Court, said: "Professor Walker's background makes him an ideal leader for us as we approach our tenth birthday as a university serving the Highlands and Islands, Moray and Perthshire.

"With an impressive 25-year career in senior academic leadership and management, he brings significant networking and experience to the role. He understands and values both further and higher education and has worked across institutions with multiple campuses based in communities with very different needs.

"Our communities need their university now and in the future. Whether it is training people in new skills, nurturing the leaders of tomorrow, or working with business to ensure they have access to the best research to help them grow and thrive, our university partnership will play a vital role in supporting the recovery of our region from the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. I am convinced Professor Walker is the right person at the right time to take us to another level."

Professor Walker said: "I am delighted to be joining the University of the Highlands and Islands, as its next principal and vice-chancellor at an exciting time in its development and growth. I look forward to working collaboratively with staff and students, partners and principals, community and government as we build and strengthen the university partnership.

"I believe the University of the Highlands and Islands is poised for a bright future and I am honoured and humbled to lead the partnership and all staff through the next chapter of the university's development."

Professor Walker will take up his appointment on 1 February 2021. He replaces Professor Clive Mulholland who retired in July 2019 and will be the university's third principal and vice-chancellor. He will join the university exactly ten years to the day since the University of the Highlands and Islands was founded.

Lews Castle College UHI are delighted to announce a new partnership with former Digby Chick Head Chef James Mackenzie.

James’ new role as Development Chef is part of Lews Castle College UHI’s new approach to support and develop new opportunities for the local community hit by the COVID-19 Global Pandemic.

The College are seeking to offer a range of new training experiences in the Professional Cookery and Hospitality sectors to directly meet the needs of the local industry and so increase the resilience of the local economy.

James’ appointment will explore a new focus on the food and drink sector locally and lead to enhanced opportunities for horticulture, food technology and food and drink innovation.

James  said “…after 35 years in the industry I was looking for an opportunity to put something back into the industry locally and by training up the next generation of chefs and cooks I think I can bring my vast experience and knowledge to this initiative. The kitchens at Lews Castle College are a fantastic bespoke training facility and I cannot wait to get started."

Dr Michael Smith, Head of Department at Lews Castle College UHI commented that: “This is a great step forward in being able to begin servicing better the food and drink sector locally.

"We hope with additional on-going industry input and advice we can produce and offer a range of engaging courses for school pupils all the way up to professional chefs.

"The hospitality sector is crucial to the local economy and Lews Castle College want to offer courses that support and encourage this sector.”



An ‘exemplary’ student has been awarded the Student of the Year title  at Lews Castle College UHI as its Online Graduation Week Continues.

SVQ Electrical Installation student Andrew Horne’s work has been described by his lecturer as “exemplars for future students attending this course in our college.’

This week sees Lews Castle College UHI begin a week of online graduation celebrations. Sadly, due to Covid restrictions, graduation has not been able to take place but the College are continuing to do everything possible to help students celebrate.

Throughout the week the College will be celebrating the stories of some of the wonderful students who have been studying with Lews Castle College UHI. These stories will celebrate how students, with the support of the College, have overcome extremely difficult circumstances created by the global pandemic to continue to excel in their studies.

Of Andrew Horne, Richard Hemmings, Lecturer in Electrical Engineering, said “Andrew’s non-practical work has been completed to a very high standard, gaining 100% grades in all the work he submitted to date. During the Covid lockdown, Andrew and his colleagues had to complete as much work as they could on-line. This situation was particularly challenging as apprentice courses were never designed for on-line delivery. I am very pleased that they coped so well.”

Andrew has been serving his Apprenticeship with local company A Campbell Electrical Services. Company Secretary Rachel Campbell said: ‘ACES Ltd are delighted to hear of Andrew’s award which reflects his hard work and we are appreciative of the support he receives from Lews Castle College.

"We are sure Andrew will continue to progress through his next two years at College with the same work ethic and determination he has shown over the last 18 months. Over the last 18 years all of our Electrical Apprentices have enjoyed their training at Lews Castle College as part of their SECTT Apprenticeship scheme.’

(A name spelling has been corrected since this was first published. Apologies for the error.)