The Principal

Ferdinand von Prondzynski


Born in Germany, Professor von Prondzynski's family moved to Ireland in the early 1960s, returning to West Germany in 1968. He was educated at Headfort School, Kells, County Meath and Thomas-Morus Gymnasium in Oelde, Germany. Having worked for Dresdner Bank AG in Germany from 1972 to 1974, he returned to Ireland, and became an Irish citizen in 1976. Professor von Prondzynski graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, with a BA and an LLB in 1978, and attained a PhD in Law from the University of Cambridge in 1983.

He began his academic career in 1980 and became an internationally known authority on industrial relations, employment law, discrimination law and competition law. He was first a Lecturer in the School of Business Studies at Trinity College, Dublin, becoming a Fellow in 1987. A move to the University of Hull in 1991 saw him take up posts as Professor of Law, Dean of the Law School, the Jean Monnet Professor of European Social Law and Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. He left Hull in 2000 to take up the post of President of Dublin City University.

During his time at DCU, Professor von Prondzynski led a number of strategic developments including a significant growth of research income (from about £3 million in 2000 to nearly £40 million by 2009), major campus investment and development, and positioning DCU as a major contributor to Ireland's knowledge economy and society. He initiated a number of major partnership projects with industry, and also the establishment of the DCU Ryan Academy for Entrepreneurship (funded by the late Ryanair founder, Dr Tony Ryan). As a result, DCU entered the Times Higher Education World Rankings, rising to 279 in 2009).

In 2006 Professor von Prondzynski was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy, the highest academic honour in Ireland. For nine years he was a member of the Irish National Competitiveness Council, the National Executive Council of the Irish Business and Employers' Confederation, the Irish National Chamber Choir, the Irish Universities Quality Board and the US-Ireland R&D Partnership. He is a non-executive Director of the world's largest e-learning company, Skillsoft Ltd.

After taking up the post of Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Robert Gordon University in 2011, Professor von Prondzynski was asked by the Scottish Government to chair a review of governance in Scottish higher education; the report was published in early 2012. He was appointed by the Government as a member of the University Sector Advisory Forum later that year, and in 2013 of the Innovation Scotland Forum. He is a board member of Aberdeen City and Shire Economic Future (ACSEF), and of Aberdeen City Council's City Centre Regeneration Board. He has been active in leading projects on urban development in Aberdeen, and economic development in the North-East of Scotland.

Professor von Prondzynski is married to Heather Ingman, Professor of English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin and novelist, and an occasional writer in the Irish Times; they have two sons.


The Board of Governors has delegated to the Principal the responsibility and authority for the leadership, administration and management of the University.

The main functions of the post can be summarised as follows:

  • The Chief Executive Officer of the University, appointed by the Board of Governors and accountable to it for the management and organisation of the University and for discipline within it
  • The Chief Academic Officer of the University and the Chairman of its Academic Council
  • The Officer designated to be responsible to Parliament for the University's use of public funds
  • The University's chief ambassador

The first two points have a statutory basis, being included in the Statutory Instrument which is the main constitutional document of the University, The Robert Gordon University (Scotland) Order of Council 1993.

The third point reflects the current arrangements between the University and its main funding body, the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council, for accountability for the use of public funds.

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