Media Release: University recognises work of Fort William and Dornoch academics


A FORT William-based researcher and academic and a Dornoch-based historian have been awarded the title of reader by the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Dr Peter Varley was awarded the title in recognition of his contribution to tourism research and Dr David Worthington for his contribution to historical research.

Based at West Highland College UHI in Fort William, Dr Varley is director of the Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research. He joined West Highland College UHI in 2009 as programme leader of the adventure tourism management degree and subsequently developed the master’s programme in eco-tourism.

In 2012, he founded the Centre for Recreation and Tourism Research as part of the college’s School of Adventure Studies, developing a portfolio of consultancy and research services for nature-based and adventure tourism, including a new annual international conference for adventure tourism.

Based in Dornoch, Dr Worthington is head of the university’s Centre for History where he arrived as a lecturer in 2008. He took responsibility for the launch of its first joint honours programme in history and politics and subsequent postgraduate programmes.

The university’s principal and vice-chancellor, Professor Clive Mulholland, said: “The title of reader is reserved for an academic who has a distinguished international reputation in in their research or scholarship and is an important milestone on the way to achieving a professorship.

“Dr Varley has contributed significantly to our national and international research profile for adventure and nature-based tourism, having developed a new research centre for the university and built research capacity at West Highland College UHI.

“His contribution to the development of new specialist degree and postgraduate programmes, as well as his contribution to our research excellence results, has placed the university as a lead institution for adventure studies with national and international recognition.

“Dr Worthington is an important member of our academic staff who has led our Centre for History to significant research excellence results as well as initiating an impressive growth in undergraduate and postgraduate curriculum provision.

“The growth in students applying to study history with us is tangible evidence of his achievements.”

Dr Varley said: “I am delighted to receive the title of reader in tourism, as it recognises the importance of academic study and knowledge exchange for this dynamic and ever-growing Highland industry.

“The value of the wilder places in the Highlands holds a powerful draw in the minds of those who visit us, those who have left for other shores and those who dream of visiting us in future.

“It is crucial that businesses and public agencies can work together to deliver the extraordinary experiences of place and culture in which the region is so rich. I firmly believe that it is in part through good quality research and innovation that such ideals can be realised. The university is a significant player in such endeavours and the establishment of a reader in the field is an important statement of intent in that regard.”

Speaking about his new title, Dr Worthington added: “I’m delighted to receive the award. All of the current full-time Centre for History staff have given an enormous amount of time and energy to largely ‘under the radar’ work, sought out new challenges almost continually and developed their profile considerably since commencing work with the university. I’m very grateful that, in my own case, this has been acknowledged through the readership.”


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