Professor Mitchell is currently deputy vice-chancellor of the University of West London. She will take up the position at Derby from September after Professor Coyne, who has led the institution for 11 years, retires.
Prior to joining UWL, Professor Mitchell – a chartered psychologist - was a Wellcome fellow at the Institute of Psychiatry in London and had also worked at the University of Chicago, the Rockefeller Institute in New York and the Friedrich Miescher Institute in Basel.
Chris Hughes, chairman of governing council at Derby, said that during the recruitment process, Professor Mitchell’s “values, passion, intellect and ability shone through”.
“She demonstrated a student-focused approach, a refusal to compromise on quality and a passion for both further and higher education and learning for life,” he said, adding that following Professor Coyne would be “difficult for whoever we appointed”.
“The best 10 years of the university are ahead of it and I have every confidence that the university has found the ideal person to lead the next period of its success,” Professor Coyne added. “Kathryn will have my full support to ensure she comes into a university with purpose and momentum.”
Professor Mitchell is the second female university chief appointed in recent weeks, after the University of Salford confirmed Helen Marshall as vice-chancellor last month. It means that from September, out of 133 institutions that are members of Universities UK, 21 will be led by women.
“I am both honoured and delighted to be joining the University of Derby as its vice-chancellor and look forward to building on its strong regonal and national links,” Professor Mitchell said. “In particular, I am excited to meet with all staff and students and at the prospect of leading the university to future successes.”