Honorary Doctorates

Duncan Chisholm content Duncan Chisholm

Duncan Chisholm

Composer, fiddle player and folk musician.

Duncan Chisholm is one of Scotland’s most recognised and accomplished fiddle players and composers. Born and brought up near Inverness, Duncan has spent most of his life developing his unique musical voice. 

Duncan musical career began in 1990, fronting folk rock band Wolfstone. The band started playing village halls in the Highlands before performing at festivals and arenas across Europe and the USA. Over the years, Duncan has had the opportunity to perform on stage and record with many different artists and his compositions complement many radio, TV and film productions.

Duncan has produced a series of musical masterpieces inspired by the wild places of the Scottish Highlands - from the Glens of Strathglass to Sandwood Bay in North Sutherland and, most recently, the Black Cuillin of Skye. Duncan’s award-winning studio releases are a product of significant research, adventure, writing and production.

Duncan’s acclaimed multi-media production Kin toured widely. The series brought archive recordings to life through film and music, celebrating the people, places and culture of the Highlands. This model was widely commended through Duncan’s personal contribution, as well as being used as an educational programme to engage young people in ethnology, film making and music composition. Duncan’s commitment to the future development of traditional music is through the design and delivery of contemporary productions, educational programmes, and ground-breaking cultural collaborations.

Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam content Jonathan Van-Tam

Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam

Senior Strategy Adviser to the University of Nottingham School of Medicine.

Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam, MBE, FMedSci, is a doctor and public health specialist. His clinical expertise spans emergency medicine, anaesthesia, and infectious diseases, with a particular focus on respiratory viruses and pandemics. Currently serving as the Senior Strategy Adviser at the University of Nottingham School of Medicine, he previously held the esteemed position of Pro Vice-Chancellor at the same institution.

Throughout his career, Professor Sir Jonathan Van-Tam has made significant contributions across various sectors, including pivotal roles at Public Health England, the World Health Organisation, and within the pharmaceutical and vaccine industries. Notably, from 2017 to 2022, he served as the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, having been seconded to the Department of Health and Social Care during that period.

He is well-known for his leadership role during the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly his straight, no-nonsense, communication style from the podium at No.10 Downing Street, and for the acquisition and rollout of vaccines and antiviral drugs in the UK. He received a knighthood from Her Majesty the Queen in her 2022 New Year’s Honours List, for services to public health. He was awarded the Royal Society’s Attenborough Award and Lecture 2022, for outstanding public engagement in science.

Professor Van-Tam earned his own postgraduate certificate from UHI Inverness and was subsequently honoured with an honorary doctorate from UHI. This recognition was bestowed in acknowledgment of his exceptional leadership, communication skills, and dedicated service throughout the pandemic, all of which strongly resonated with UHI’s core values and closely aligned with its aspirations.

Professor Dame Sue Black content Professor Dame Sue Black

Professor Dame Sue Black

37th President of St John's College, Oxford.

Professor Black is one of the world’s leading forensic anthropologists who has led on both national and international criminal cases, including war crimes investigations in Kosovo, identifications following the Asian tsunami and combatant deaths in Sierra Leone and Grenada.

She was born in Inverness and educated at Inverness Royal Academy before graduating from the University of Aberdeen in 1986, immediately taking up a teaching and research post at St. Thomas’ Hospital, London. Between 2003 and 2018, she was Professor of Anatomy and Forensic Anthropology at the University of Dundee where she was director of the Queen’s award-winning Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification and lead for the Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science.

Between 2018 and 2022, she was Pro Vice-Chancellor for Engagement at Lancaster University, tasked with raising the university’s profile locally, regionally, and nationally whilst championing the economic growth and regeneration of North West England.

Professor Black has authored 14 textbooks and two popular books on her work and has made regular media appearances, including the television series History Cold Case, BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs and The Life Scientific. She presented the Royal Institution’s televised Christmas lectures in 2022 and is the recipient of several police commendations for her forensic work.

She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 2016 Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to higher education and forensic science and, in 2021, entered the House of Lords as a crossbench peer taking the title of Baroness Black of Strome. She is the lifetime Professor of Anatomy for the Royal Scottish Academy, a fellow of the Royal Society, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Anthropological Institute and the Royal Society of Biology.  She is an Honorary Professor of Forensic Anatomy at the University of Oxford and a Visiting Professor at the University of Lancaster.

Professor David Lurie content Prof David Lurie

Professor David Lurie

Professor David Lurie is an eminent scientist who specialised in medical physics. Before his retirement in 2021, he was a Chair of Biomedical Physics at the University of Aberdeen, where he is now an Emeritus Professor.

His research interests focus on the development of magnetic resonance imaging technology and its applications, primarily in biomedicine. During his career, he secured research grants totalling over £11.1 million, gave over 100 lectures at conferences and workshops around the world and authored 86 peer-reviewed papers, eight book chapters and more than 280 conference abstracts.

His doctorate has been awarded in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the development of research and scholarly activity across UHI, including a significant contribution towards UHI achieving research degree awarding powers.

Dr Clare Morrison content Dr Clare Morrison

Dr Clare Morrison

Director of Community Engagement at Healthcare Improvement Scotland.

Dr Clare Morrison has had a diverse career in quality improvement, pharmacy and professional leadership. Her current role focuses on supporting people and communities to be engaged in shaping health and care services in NHS Scotland.

During her time at NHS Highland, she created the NHS video consulting service, Near Me, using a co-design approach with patients, the public, clinicians and NHS staff. She was then involved in spreading Near Me across Scotland working with the Scottish Government’s Technology Enabled Care Team as National Near Me Lead during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Other professional highlights include developing the Medicine Sick Day Rules cards, leading the Scottish Patient Safety Programme’s pharmacy pilot in NHS Highland, and leading the development of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in Scotland’s “Pharmacy 2030” vision when working as the Society’s Director for Scotland.

 Dr Morrison is an NHS Scottish Quality and Safety Fellow, a Fellow of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and received an MBE for services to healthcare in 2018.

 Her doctorate has been awarded in recognition of her outstanding contribution to promoting and enhancing access to public services, specifically to digital health within the Highlands and nationally.

Iain Macneil content Iain Macneil receiving award

Iain Macneil

Iain Macneil of Aviemore is Chief Executive Officer of Witherby Publishing Group, one of Scotland’s largest publishing companies, exporting a portfolio of specialist titles for merchant shipping to more than 110 countries.

As a young person with dyslexia, Iain left Castlebay High School on the Isle of Barra at 16, joined the Merchant Navy and realised how difficult it was for him to read training and reference publications and manuals. Despite this, he gained an exemplary exam record during his 12 years at sea and qualified as an Officer of the Watch aged 19, was promoted to Navigating Officer at 20 and Chief Officer at 26.

Iain developed training software to help seafarers through their marine oral exams and, after forming Seamanship International, he created other packages that enabled comprehension of technical and operational shipping information. In 2008 Seamanship merged with Witherbys, the oldest independent publisher in the English-speaking world and formed Witherby Publishing Group.

In May 2022, Iain completed a world first when he skippered a 24m motor boat that completed a circumnavigation, rounding every Cape in the Southern Hemisphere, in 150 days at sea over a distance of 31,500 miles with his crew of four.

Iain was awarded the Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service in September 2022 for services to maritime safety and technical publications.

Very Reverend Susan Brown content Susan Brown in her robe

Very Reverend Susan Brown

Very Reverend Susan Brown was presented with the title at the Highland Theological College UHI graduation ceremony in Dingwall on Tuesday 2 July 2019, alongside 40 graduating students. The award recognises her contribution to the church and to the communities of the Highlands and Islands.

Very Reverend Brown has been a minister in the Highlands for over 30 years. Originally from Penicuik near Edinburgh, she moved to the Highlands in 1985 to serve at Killearnan Church on the Black Isle. After 13 years, she moved to Dornoch, where she became the first woman to take charge of a cathedral in the UK.

Peter May content Peter May in Stornoway

Peter May

Peter May was presented with his award by the university Chancellor, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, at the Perth College UHI graduation ceremony on Thursday 3 October 2019.

Born and brought up in Glasgow, Peter May started his career as a journalist before embarking on a fifteen-year stint in the television industry. He created and wrote many prime-time drama serials, including Take the High Road and Machair, before becoming a full-time novelist. May has now published over 20 books, including standalone novels such as Entry Island and Coffin Road, and the internationally best-selling Lewis Trilogy, a crime series set in the Outer Hebrides.

John Keay content John Keay in a garden

John Keay

John Keay was presented with his award by the university Chancellor, Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, at the Perth College UHI graduation ceremony on Thursday 3 October 2019. 

A historian who specialises in India, Southeast Asia and China and also writes on Scotland. He discovered a love of India during a fishing trip in 1965 and returned often in his role as a political correspondent for The Economist. Keay gave up his correspondent role to write his first book, Into India, which was published in 1973. His other works include China: A History, The Tartan Turban and India Discovered. He also edited the first two editions of the Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland with his late first wife, Julia. Keay moved into radio in the 1980s, writing and presenting several documentary series for the BBC. Born and educated in England, Keay has now lived in the West Highlands for nearly 50 years.

Eileen Alison Mackay, first Honorary Doctorate of the University of the Highlands and Islands content Eileen Mackay and HS at HTC graduation

Eileen Alison Mackay, first Honorary Doctorate of the University of the Highlands and Islands

Eileen Mackay was awarded the first honorary doctorate conferred by the University of the Highlands and Islands from the university chancellor, HRH The Princess Royal, at the Highland Theological College UHI graduation ceremony on the 5 July 2018.

Eileen grew up in Dingwall, Ross-shire, before embarking on a distinguished career in the civil service. She held posts in HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office before becoming Principal Finance Officer at the Scottish Office. After retiring, Eileen dedicated her time to a wide range of non-executive roles. She has been a longstanding supporter of the University of the Highlands and Islands and became an independent member of its court in 2009.

Eileen held this position until 2017, serving on the finance and audit committees as well as chairing the remuneration committee. Eileen has demonstrated an outstanding contribution to the development of the university, while her colleagues have greatly valued her commitment, expertise and the professional insight she has offered to her varied roles.

Dee Bradbury content Dee Bradbury, Honorary Doctorate 2018

Dee Bradbury

Dee Bradbury was awarded an honorary doctorate of the University of the Highlands and Islands at the Argyll College UHI graduation ceremony, on the 28 September 2018, in recognition of her leadership work in sport at a local, national and international level. The award was presented by Professor Crichton Lang, deputy principal of the university, in Dee’s hometown of Oban, Argyll.

In August 2018, Dee became the first female president of the Scottish Rugby Union, and is the first female leader of a Tier 1 rugby playing nation. She has been Scottish Rugby’s representative to Rugby Europe and is on the Women’s Committee for Rugby Europe. An accomplished athlete, Dee has represented Scotland and GB in athletics as junior and masters level, and has previously managed Scotland Women U18. Dee has spent her working life, since 1984, based in Oban where she has championed and encouraged women and girls to play sport, as well as leading and administering sporting activities for all.

Dee was formerly a police officer with Strathclyde Police, latterly Police Scotland, and is now retired. She was a founding member of the women’s section at Oban Lorne R.F.C. and went on to occupy several Committee roles within the club before becoming honorary president of Oban Lorne R.F.C. Dee previously held the positions of chair within Oban Netball Club, Oban Athletics Club and The Lorne Highland Games.