Fresh changes to leadership team at Robert Gordon University

Professor John Harper, principal of RGU
Professor John Harper, principal of RGU

Fresh changes have been made to the top team at Robert Gordon University (RGU) in the wake of a series of high-profile departures last year.

The leadership shake-up at the Aberdeen-based institution includes the appointment of a new vice-principal for academic development, a new board secretary and a new head of the School of Health Sciences.

Professor Elizabeth Hancock has taken on the newly-created role of vice-principal for academic development and student experience at RGU.

Dawn Mitchell, meanwhile, has moved to Prof Hancock’s previous position of head of the School of Health Sciences.

And another change involves Veronica Strachan succeeding Hilary Douglas as secretary to the board, as well as becoming assistant chief academic officer.

The changes follow the departure in November of Mark Sollis, who had been vice-principal of university advancement at RGU for about two years.

It is understood that his previous responsibilities have now been shared between the remaining members of the executive.

Mr Sollis left just weeks after the shock resignation of principal Ferdinand von Prondzynski at the end of August amid a conflict of interest row.

Another vice-principal, Professor Paul Hagan, had quit the university in July in protest at the board’s decision not to sanction Prof von Prondzynski for failing to declare his business links to a colleague.

Prof Hagan later withdrew his resignation.

Professor John Harper was promoted to the top job from his previous role as deputy principal, but the decision to name a successor without going through the normal recruitment procedures was criticised by trade unions at the time.

It is understood that the deputy principal post at RGU remains vacant.

Last night, Prof Harper said: “We can confirm the appointments of Professor Elizabeth Hancock as vice-principal for academic development and student experience, Veronica Strachan as assistant chief academic officer and secretary to the board, and Dawn Mitchell as head of School of Health Sciences.

“We are delighted to welcome them to their new roles within the senior management team.”

RGU and the Scottish Funding Council held a “lessons learned review” into events last year and in December made eight recommendations to improve transparency and governance at universities across Scotland.