Farewell to College Principal

Lews Castle College UHI said a fond farewell last week to outgoing Principal Iain Macmillan as he started his retirement after over 16 years’ service at ‘the castle’.

A Chartered Accountant to trade, Iain had previously worked in local government, both on the mainland as the Head of Exchequer Services at East Ayrshire Council and in the islands, with 15 years’ service at Western Isles Council, now Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Born and raised in South Uist, Iain and his family moved back to Lewis in the spring of 2002, initially with a weekly commute to Kilmarnock. He took up post as Director of Finance and Corporate Services at the College in April 2004. He was appointed Principal and Chief Executive in January 2012.

During his time at the College, Iain has taken forward much of the ‘behind the scenes’ work to develop new approaches to funding, infrastructure and IT to help deliver the unique model of tertiary education that is offered in the Highlands and Islands, allowing people to study both further and higher education in their own communities.

This includes the blended model of teaching and learning that has opened up opportunities for so many people to study without needing to go away – a model that is perhaps more relevant than ever at the time of Covid-19.

Reflecting on his departure at a time of so much global uncertainty Iain said:

“The period of lockdown has been unsettling for so many of us. I found that I missed the people at work in a way I hadn’t anticipated – the casual conversations, the interactions in the corridors, the smiles, the noise of activity – they all play such a big part in our working lives.

I’m really proud though of the way that staff developed new ways of working to support our students through the last few months of the academic year, which was reflected in the high levels of performance and achievement which we saw.

We’ve also put plans in place that will ensure the vast majority of our full time courses will be available for students for the new academic year. That includes work to get our buildings ready for staff and students to return. I would like to thank everyone who’s worked so hard over the summer to get us ready to get back as soon as the national road map allows us to do so.”

Although the demands of social distancing made it impossible for staff to organise a farewell in the usual way, a suitably socially distanced presentation was made at the end of last week, providing colleagues with the chance to pass on their appreciation and best wishes. The Chair of the Board, Archie Macdonald, also expressed his thanks to Iain for his contribution to College activities, and wished him well for the future.

Iain’s final day in post was 9 August 2020. Sue Macfarlane is taking over as Interim Principal and Chief Executive from Monday 10 August. Sue has previously been working with the College as Director of Transformational Change.