Heriot-Watt Academics given Royal seal of approval



Professor Phillip John (front centre, red tie) with members of the SCHOLAR team

Two long-standing figures at Heriot-Watt University have been recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Professor Phillip John and Professor Bob Craik will both receive an OBE later this year for their outstanding contribution to Scotland's education system.

Professor Phillip John

Welsh-born Professor John has been with the University since becoming a lecturer in Chemistry in 1972. He steadily rose through the ranks before entering a senior leadership role of Dean of Science and Engineering and then Senior Dean of the University. Since 2003, the Professor of Chemistry has been the Executive Chair of SCHOLAR, an online learning platform that provides courses in STEM, business and languages for young people across Scotland.

Virtually all secondary schools in Scotland currently subscribe to SCHOLAR making it one of the world's largest e-learning programmes at this level.

It was for Professor John's leadership of this programme and his illustrious career that he has been recognised with the recent honour.

He said: “When I received my letter about the OBE it came as a complete surprise.

"While it is an honour for my family and I, it's also testament to the people, both past and present, who have contributed to SCHOLAR and helped with its success.

"It has been fantastic for me to play a part in the SCHOLAR programme, which provides young people access to high quality learning and teaching resources.”

The Queen's Birthday Honours List recognises the achievements of a wide range of extraordinary people across the United Kingdom.

Among this year's recipients is Professor Bob Craik, the founding Provost of Heriot-Watt University's Malaysia campus.

In 2012, he was appointed to his greatest professional challenge when he became the head of the team establishing the University's campus in Malaysia. Over the following five years, Professor Craik and his growing team  created a vibrant community of 2,000 staff and students.

Professor Bob Craik

Professor Bob Craik OBE

Professor Craik said of the honour: “When I was contacted about the OBE and asked if I would accept, I was very surprised.  It's a tremendous honour and not something I was expecting.

“When I moved to Malaysia with my wife in 2012, I had a budget, a dedicated project support team and an ambitious plan but no local staff, no campus and no students.

“But by the time I left, we had a full complement of staff, a new custom built campus, some 2000 staff and students and a fully functioning University.

“Although it was the most challenging role I have ever had in my career, it was undoubtedly the most rewarding.”

Professor Craik has lived in Edinburgh for most of his life. The father-of-four now works part-time at the University's Riccarton campus in his role as Provost Emeritus.