End of an era as college chair retires

Alex Linkston CBE chaired his last Board of Governors meeting at West Lothian College on 19 June as he completed his second four-year term as Chair.

Alex was first appointed onto the college board in 2005. After serving as vice chair of the board in 2008, acting chair in 2012 and interim chair in 2015, he was appointed as Chair in 2016 by Scottish Ministers.

Alex stepped down as figures published by the Scottish Funding Council on 29 May showed that, for the third successive year, West Lothian College had the highest overall student success of all regional colleges in Scotland.

He leaves a rich legacy at the college. Last year, a new Skills Centre for Sustainable Living was named in his honour and, at the graduation ceremony in October 2023, the college introduced a new Alex Linkston Prize for Outstanding Student.

Alex provided strategic leadership that led to the college consistently exceeding targets in his time as chair and he has overseen the college receiving many external accreditations that recognise it as an excellent place to learn and work. Last winter, he joined staff and students at the national college awards where West Lothian won a record 5 out of 14 awards - more than any other college!

Under his leadership, West Lothian College’s board Alex has become one of the most diverse in Scotland, with half of the twelve non-executive members female and three members from different ethnic minority groups.

To acknowledge Alex’s contribution to the college over 19 years professional cookery students, under the expert guidance of their lecturers, prepared and served a wonderful farewell meal at the college last month. The ninety guests who attended agreed that the students did an outstanding job.

Alex Linkston said: “Its been a real pleasure serving on the college board. West Lothian College has amazing staff who go that extra mile for the benefit of their students and I saw at first hand how the college can and does change people’s lives through learning, knowledge and the self confidence that students develop.

"I wish the college every continuing success going forward. It’s a great credit to our community and local employers.”

Principal of West Lothian College, Jackie Galbraith, added: “I joined the college as principal in 2018 and enjoyed every minute working with Alex. His priorities were always our students, our staff, the communities we serve and the businesses we support. As a trailblazer in public service, he has been an inspiration and a great mentor and I feel very privileged to have worked with him.”

In addition to chairing West Lothian College, Alex played a national role as the Chair of College Employers Scotland for five years from 2017 to 2022.