Sir Keith O’Nions has been appointed rector of Imperial College London.
The former government adviser has been acting head of the institution since January and will serve as rector until 2013.
Sir Roy Anderson, Imperial’s previous head, resigned last autumn. He spent just over a year at the helm before returning to his position as professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the Faculty of Medicine.
Lord Kerr, chairman of Imperial’s court and council, said he was “delighted” that Sir Keith had agreed to serve a full term.
“His first six months have been a tour de force. With him at the helm, we have a highly skilled and experienced captain to navigate us through some of the most challenging waters that universities have faced in a generation,” he said.
“Sir Keith’s deep knowledge of both academia and government means that he understands the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. It is to Imperial’s great benefit that he will remain in post to strengthen its position on the world stage and lead it to even greater success.”
Sir Keith was appointed to set up and lead Imperial’s Institute for Security Science and Technology in July 2008.
Prior to that, he held government posts including director-general for science and innovation at the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, and chief scientific adviser to both the Department of Trade and Industry and the Ministry of Defence.
His academic career has spanned more than 30 years and involved a variety of posts, including a stint as head of Earth sciences at the University of Oxford, a position he took up in 1995.
Sir Keith said: “There are tough challenges ahead, but Imperial is certainly not going to stand still over the coming years. We will continue to advance our academic mission by strengthening our core disciplines, providing time and space for interdisciplinary work, investing in the student experience and maintaining the high quality of our support staff.
“Imperial is packed with can-do people and I am very excited about what the future holds.”