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Principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI awarded Honorary Degree

The Honorary Degree of Doctor of Education was conferred on Professor Boyd Robertson by the University of Edinburgh on Friday 4 July.

Professor Robertson has been Principal of Sabhal Mòr Ostaig since 2009, where his vast experience of the Gaelic world and his vision for Gaelic have been instrumental in the further development of the College.

Laureator, Professor Rob Dunbar, welcomed Prof Robertson, saying, “It is a source of pride both to me personally and to all Gaels that this honour is being conferred on a man who has done so much for Gaelic education, for the language itself, and for the Gaelic people.”

A native of North Uist, Professor Robertson graduated in Celtic Studies from Aberdeen University, trained as a teacher at Aberdeen College of Education and taught Gaelic for several years at Oban High School.  From there, he moved to Jordanhill College of Education, serving first as Lecturer in Gaelic before becoming Reader and Head of Language Education at the University of Strathclyde.  

Professor Robertson has played a pivotal role in the development of Gaelic-medium education in Scotland, not simply through his excellent work in training Gaelic teachers, but also through his significant contribution to research.  He understands the profound importance to Gaelic of learners, having created the leading self-instructional Gaelic language course and having co-compiled the most accessible and popular Gaelic dictionary.

Professor Robertson said, “This is a great honour for me personally and for Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the remarkable institution I am privileged to lead.  This year marks the centenary of the death of Professor Donald MacKinnon, the first holder of the Chair of Celtic at Edinburgh and it is a particular pleasure for me to receive this honour from the first university in Scotland to establish a Chair of Celtic.  It is also gratifying to receive this degree from the University of Edinburgh as the University and Sabhal Mòr have been collaborating for several years on the wonderful Kist o’ Riches project.” 

Professor Robertson has played a central role in many aspects of Gaelic development, not least as a member of development agencies such as Bòrd na Gàidhlig where his work on preparation of the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 was outstanding.  Over the years, he has contributed greatly to various voluntary Gaelic initiatives and to the Gaelic media.  He is a highly respected member of Scotland’s Gaelic community, and a marvellous ambassador for his language and culture.

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