Professor Sir Pete Downes to retire as Principal

Professor Sir Pete Downes, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee, has announced he will retire at the end of 2018.

Professor Downes said, “It has been a tremendous honour and a privilege to lead this great institution for what will have been almost ten years at the time I step down. Being Principal has been the latest and final chapter of my career in the University, which began in 1989.

“I have been here long enough to have received a Long Service Award last year. I wear my silver badge, denoting 25-plus years of service, with pride, along with the many staff who have shared the journey.  Later this year I will turn 65 and this seems a natural time to consider the next stage of my life.

“There are crucial issues to be addressed by the University throughout the coming year and I will be devoting my energies to those in the coming months.

“September will also see the opening of V&A Dundee, a project I have been closely involved with since the time I became Principal. It is just one sign of the significant changes taking place in the city, many of them being driven or supported by the University.”

Professor Downes has been Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Dundee since 2009. Under his leadership the University has consistently been rated among the best in the United Kingdom for student experience. Dundee was shortlisted as the UK’s University of the Year by Times Higher Education in 2017, following a double accolade as the Sunday Times Scottish University of the Year for two years running.

He was Convener of Universities Scotland from August 2012 to July 2016, having previously served as Convener of its Research and Knowledge Exchange Committee. He has been a leading voice in championing the strengths an autonomous and diverse university sector can offer Scotland, and particularly the role universities can play in driving innovation and economic growth.

Professor Downes is one of the UK’s leading biochemists. He spent eleven years in the pharmaceutical industry before joining the University in 1989. Before his appointment as Principal he served as Vice-Principal and Head of the College of Life Sciences. He has played a key role in establishing Dundee as a global leader in life sciences, making a significant impact on both the Scottish economy and our understanding and treatment of major diseases including diabetes and cancer.

He was a co-founder of the Division of Signal Transduction Therapy (DSTT) at Dundee, a partnership between the University and several of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. The DSTT was founded in 1998 and has attracted almost £60million of inward investment to the city. It is widely regarded as a model for how academia and industry can interact productively and was awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher Education in 2006.

He was awarded the Colworth Medal of the British Biochemical Society in 1987 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1991 and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2009. He was honoured by the Queen with an OBE in 2004 and a Knighthood in 2015.

The process to appoint a new Principal will now begin and will include an extensive consultation across the University.