New chief to keep Fife steady ahead of crucial merger

31st May 2013 at 01:00
Troubled college region welcomes lead from University of St Andrews

A college region hit by a series of allegations over bullying and fraud has a new regional lead from the University of St Andrews in a move designed to bring stability ahead of a key merger.

Stephen Magee, currently vice-principal for external relations at the university, has been named as the new lead for the Fife college region. It is hoped his appointment will minimise difficulties as the merger of Adam Smith and Carnegie colleges is completed on 1 August.

Adam Smith College has hit the headlines over the past 15 months, with principal Craig Thomson retiring in March 2012 amid allegations of bullying at the college by senior management.

His successor Ian Harrington was suspended months later over concerns about misuse of funds from the European Union. In January this year, it was announced that a police investigation into fraud allegations had been launched.

David Torrance, SNP MSP for Kirkcaldy, said Mr Magee was "a great appointment", that his experience would "make a huge difference" and he could be "the right person" to help the two colleges merge and provide the right education for students in the area.

But he said Mr Magee would have "an extremely difficult job". "The challenge will be to unite both colleges, as they have very distinct identities," he added. "They need someone who is very strong and able to pull the boards together."

Mr Magee was formerly a member of the board at Elmwood College, until it merged with three institutions - Barony, Oatridge and the Scottish Agricultural College - to form Scotland's Rural College (SRUC).

Mr Magee said he was "delighted" to be taking on the new role and would be "working to establish a new board and working with them to ensure that the new college provides innovative and inspiring learning that delivers real success for Fife".

The Fife partnership board confirmed that Hugh Logan will take up his post as principal-designate of the new Fife College on Monday.

Mr Logan, who is leaving his position as principal of Motherwell College to take up the role, told TESS he was looking forward to working with Mr Magee as they pursued the next phase in planning the future of Fife's post-school sector.

Tony Jakimciw, who was the regional lead at Fife, has moved to become regional lead of the Borders region. The Fife partnership board praised Mr Jakimciw for his "hard work and commitment in leading the merger process to this point".

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