A former senior official at Robert Gordon University has criticised the board for the way it has responded to its leadership crisis.
Michael Hastie served on the board of governors for 12 years and was head of estates for some of that time.
Mr Hastie – who was convener of Aberdeen City Council’s planning committee during the 1990s – said he was troubled by the way the university had handled the resignation of Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski and the subsequent appointment of his replacement, Professor John Harper.
The outgoing boss stepped down last Thursday amid a row over his business links with recently-appointed vice-principal Gordon McConnell.
However, the university came under fresh criticism for appointing Prof Harper outwith a formal recruitment process, and was forced to reject claims of “cronyism” and “jobs for the boys”.
While Mr Hastie said he had no reason to believe the new principal was not the best man for the job, he said the post should have been advertised and an “external adviser” from the university sector should have been a part of the hiring panel.
He added: “The board, with the confirmation of this appointment, have rehearsed the error of the previous principal by appointing without due process.
“This could place the new principal in a difficult relationship with his staff and students.
“Are they, the board, competently acting in the best interests of the university, its students and staff?”
RGU has previously rejected calls for an inquiry from the University and College Union (UCU) over the appointment.
The UCU had urged the Scottish Funding Council to intervene, alleging that the university had breached governance rules.
But another former governor has said he was “delighted” to learn that Prof Harper would be taking over the reins.
Ian Lakin said: “The university is very fortunate to have a worthy successor within its midst with such high integrity, deep understanding of the workings of the institution and who would always.put the students and staff first before any of his own interests.
“We should all wish him well and that the university goes from strength to strength under his leadership.”
Prof Harper will take the reins for a fixed term of two years.
RGU previously accused the UCU of misrepresenting the board’s actions.
David Strachan,vice-chairman of the board of governors, said: “The university conducted a full and thorough investigation and the board stands by its outcome and the serious sanctions which were imposed. Without consideration of all the information, it is inappropriate to say that those involved should have been sacked.
“His appointment has been universally welcomed by staff and students and we now have breathing space to stabilise the situation. When the time is right the board will consider the future leadership requirements of the university, including the process for recruiting a successor beyond the end of the two year fixed-term appointment,” he added.
Prof von Prondzynski quit following an internal investigation which found he had breached RGU’s conflict of interest policy during the recent appointment of vice-principal Gordon McConnell.
An inquiry ruled that the two former Dublin City University colleagues had failed to declare during Prof McConnell’s recruitment at the end of last year that they were co-directors of a firm which owned a £12million castle in Ireland.