Source: Heriot-Watt University
Richard Williams, who has also held pro vice-chancellor roles at the University of Leeds, will take over as the Scottish university’s new principal and vice-chancellor in the autumn.
His appointment follows the departure of previous principal Steve Chapman, who has left to run Edith Cowan University in Perth, Australia.
Professor Williams, who has also been head of Birmingham’s College of Engineering and Physical Sciences for the past five years, will oversee activity at Heriot-Watt’s Edinburgh campus, as well as its campuses in Dubai and Malaysia.
Professor Williams said he was looking forward to joining the university given its “proud heritage and evident track record of outstanding achievement” as well as its “profound global reach”.
“I look forward to working with students and colleagues across the campuses in the UK, Malaysia and Dubai, along with our many partners and businesses in ensuring its future growth and success,” he said.
Professor Williams, who took his PhD in mineral technology at Imperial College London, began his career with posts in the mining industry before taking a lecturer post at the University of Manchester.
He joined the University of Exeter as a professor of mineral engineering at the age of just 33 in 1993 making him one of the UK’s youngest engineering professors at the time.
He moved to the University of Leeds six years later where he was responsible for developing a new Institute of Particle Science and Engineering and was also head of its department of mining before becoming a pro vice-chancellor in 2005.
Frances Cairncross, chair of Heriot-Watt’s university court, said Williams’ “experience and expertise mesh well with Heriot-Watt’s own academic and research strengths”.
“His background within the sector and wide network of contacts will provide a strong support to the university’s strategic development, building on the successes of recent years,” she added.