It was a job that might not have existed, but today the University of Abertay Dundee has announced that Professor Nigel Seaton will be its new Principal and Vice-Chancellor.
Professor Seaton, 51, hails from Falkirk, and is a former Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey and Vice-Principal of the University of Edinburgh. His field is chemical engineering, having gained his BSc from Edinburgh in 1982, followed by an MSc and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.
After working for Atkins Research and Development and BP, Seaton went on to teach at Clare College Cambridge, Cornell University and the University of Edinburgh. As Vice-Principal at Edinburgh, he was responsible for areas including strategic planning, internationalisation, student recruitment and the library, controlling a budget of £110m.
It’s a CV that Abertay will be keen to flaunt as well as put to use, following the controversy that saw the recruitment process delayed in 2011 – for a time, it seemed, indefinitely. The university was asked to delay its search for a new principal by the Scottish Funding Council, in order to explore the possibility of a merger between Abertay and the University of Dundee.
Amid accusations from opposition parties that merger plans were being forced on the institutions by Education Secretary Mike Russell, the two universities decided against a merger, paving the way for Seaton’s eventual appointment.
“It is an honour to be appointed Principal of the University of Abertay Dundee,” said Seaton in a statement. “I look forward to working with colleagues, and with our students, to build on Abertay’s record of success in education, research and knowledge transfer, and to joining the wider community in the City of Dundee.”
Nigel Hawkins, Chair of Court, added: “Professor Seaton brings a depth and wealth of experience and personal qualities to his new role. The University Court is looking forward to working with him as he assumes the leadership of the University and takes Abertay forward as a vibrant and independent university making an outstanding contribution to the local community and to Scotland and as a highly respected player nationally and internationally.
“Court has every confidence in Professor Seaton’s ability to engage with academic and support staff and with our student community in building on the firm foundations here at Abertay and in delivering on our exciting shared vision for the future.