Craig Mahoney will take over as principal and vice-chancellor in August this year, replacing Seamus McDaid, who will retire after having led the institution since its creation in 2007.
Before joining the HEA in 2010, Professor Mahoney was deputy vice-chancellor at Northumbria University with responsibility for learning and teaching.
In a statement, he said: “I want to see UWS realise its full potential across all aspects of its business, but specifically in delivery of high-quality, internationalised, research, teaching and learning.”
The university was formed from the merger of the University of Paisley and Bell College. It now has campuses in Ayr, Dumfries, Hamilton and Paisley, and in 2011 it opened a joint campus with the Scottish Agricultural College in Ayr.
Richard Blackburn, chair of the university’s court, said that the position had attracted a “very strong field of applicants” but said: “Professor Mahoney’s unique blend of leadership experience across a range of higher education settings means that he is ideally placed to lead UWS through the next stage of its development as we seek to achieve the ambitious outcomes in our plans.”
In February, it was announced that Professor Mahoney would take up an unpaid position of professor of higher education strategy at the University of Huddersfield alongside his HEA role.
At the time of the appointment, he told Times Higher Education that he would help develop Huddersfield’s research and strategy.
A spokesman for Huddersfield confirmed that, as far as the university knew, Professor Mahoney would still take up his research position, although it would be similar to a visiting professorship with no fixed number of hours.