Nigel Seaton, former senior deputy vice-chancellor at the University of Surrey, will take up the position on 20 August.
Born in Falkirk, Professor Seaton, 51, has a background in chemical engineering and served at the University of Edinburgh from 1998 to 2008 as the head of several departments, and as assistant principal and vice-principal.
He said that he was looking forward to building on Abertay’s “record of success” in education, research and knowledge transfer, and to joining the wider community in Dundee.
The appointment comes after a tumultuous period for Abertay.
In February 2011, its long-serving vice-chancellor Bernard King was suspended by the chair of the university court “pending investigation of a number of issues”. It is thought that a management dispute was behind the row.
In July, the university announced that Professor King had retired – something he initially denied. The institution and Professor King eventually agreed on a retirement settlement.
Vice-principal Nicolas Terry, who was also suspended in early 2011, was reinstated in March of that year and has been acting principal ever since.
The Scottish Funding Council asked Abertay to discuss a merger with the University of Dundee in September, but after an outcry from both universities it confirmed that they would remain independent.
Nigel Hawkins, chair of the Abertay university court, said that Professor Seaton would bring “a depth and wealth of experience and personal qualities to his new role”.
He thanked Professor Terry for “managing and leading the university with distinction through challenging times”, adding: “The whole university community is deeply indebted to him.”