NAFC director David Gray is taking over at the helm of Shetland College, Train Shetland and Adult Learning in addition to his current post.
The joint management appointment has been agreed by Shetland Islands Council following the retirement of Shetland College director George Smith. The appointment will be for a period of at least three years, with a formal review after the first 12 months.
Both Shetland College and the NAFC are part of the University of the Highlands and Islands, formally established earlier this month on the foundations of the former UHI Millennium Institute.
College board chairman Andrew Hughson said the appointment was an imaginative deployment of “world-class” academic resources.
“Professor Gray is a dynamic and hugely effective figure of international reputation,” Mr Hughson said, “and his availability here in the isles to take on the challenges presented at Shetland College and Train Shetland is an enormous boon to the community, staff and students. His background covers all aspects of academic leadership and he is uniquely placed to take on this challenging job and continue to build on the solid foundations set by his predecessor George Smith.”
Prof Gray said: “I very much welcome the opportunity to take on responsibility for Shetland College, Train Shetland and Adult Learning and I believe, as joint members of the University of the Highlands and Islands, this offers a tremendous opportunity to integrate Shetland’s further education facilities in what will be a unified, cost effective, world class provision of education and training across a wide range of disciplines.”
The move was welcomed by SIC executive director of education and social care services Hazel Sutherland.
She said: “This is not only a very imaginative use of the internationally acknowledged talents and resources we possess in Shetland, but will make further education in the isles integrated and extremely cost effective.
“Prof Gray’s achievement in his short time at the NAFC Marine Centre promises great things for the future of further education in Shetland and I am really pleased to welcome him to the team.
“This joint management arrangement is unusual and will be challenging. It does however represent a unique opportunity to try to do things differently, in response to the tightening financial climate that we all face.
“There is a real opportunity to develop the learning opportunities betweens schools and colleges, for school pupils and for adult learners. This is an area where David has significant expertise and practical experience of sharing resources across schools, colleges and other learning settings.”
Prof Gray took up his NAFC Marine Centre appointment in December 2008. A marine biologist, he was Dean of Faculty at the University of Derby in Buxton before moving to Shetland. He and his wife Janine have three daughters and he plays a variety of musical instruments but is especially keen on the tuba.
He said moving to Shetland had been an inspiring and enjoyable experience for his entire family.
“I believe that Shetland is the perfect location to bring up our family. I grew up in Cornwall and feel that Shetland offers the same family-orientated lifestyle and community support that I enjoyed as a child. We very much appreciate the islands’ fantastic wildlife and environment and low crime rate.
“I value the opportunity to work towards the creation of a bright educational and economic future for these islands I now call home.”