The Robert Gordon University (RGU) in Aberdeen has started its search for an “outstanding” new principal to lead the institution.
Advertisements for the top job have been published, with an appointment expected in spring next year, ahead of the new recruit taking up the post in September 2020.
The principal will succeed Professor John Harper, who took the reins on a two-year, fixed-term period, amid a storm of controversy in the summer of last year.
Prof Harper, who was previously deputy principal, replaced Ferdinand von Prondzynski after he decided to step down as a row raged over his business links with recently-appointed vice-principal Gordon McConnell.
However, the institution was further criticised at the time over the lack of a formal recruitment process before Prof Harper was given the job, with the University and College Union (UCU) branding it a “jobs for the boys approach”.
A joint “lessons learned review” carried out by RGU and the Scottish Funding Council into the cronyism row later concluded that the university initially made a “mistake” by failing to say publicly that Prof Harper would only be in the job for two years.
Last night, a spokeswoman for RGU said: “The university’s current principal, Professor John Harper, is retiring on August 31, 2020.
“RGU has therefore embarked upon the recruitment process, in line with the Scottish Code of Good Higher Education Governance, for a new principal to lead the university and build on its strengths as an innovative, inclusive, impactful and professionally-focused institution.”
The university’s board of governors has established an appointment committee to oversee the process and to set-up a selection committee.
RGU also recently undertook a competitive tender process and appointed executive search consultants Perrett Laver to assist.
The salary is not listed in the job advert but Prof von Prondzynski was reported to be earning £278,000 per year as principal.
Mary Senior, UCU Scotland official, said: “While the university will be appreciative of Prof Harper bringing some stability to the institution, the new principal appointment comes at a critical time for the sector.
“With Brexit uncertainty, and campus unions in dispute with university employers over pay and equality issues, the new principal will need to hit the ground running.”
She added: “We’d like a new principal who can take a fresh look at pay and equality in the sector to value and support staff who deliver the teaching, research and student support.”