Lord Robertson appointed Chancellor of the University of Dundee

Published on 13 September 2023

The University of Dundee has appointed The Rt Hon. Lord Robertson of Port Ellen KT as its new Chancellor.

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The role of Chancellor is the most senior in the University and involves acting as its ceremonial head, presiding over Academic Ceremonies and acting as President of the Graduates’ Association.

Lord (George) Robertson is an alumnus of the University, graduating in 1968 with an MA(Hons) Economics degree. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (honFRSE). 

He was Member of Parliament for Hamilton and then Hamilton South from 1978 -99 and joined the House of Lords in 1999. He became a member of Her Majesty's Privy Council in 1997.

He was the 10th Secretary General of NATO and Chairman of the North Atlantic Council from 1999 to 2003 and UK Secretary of State for Defence from 1997-1999. He was Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland in the Shadow Cabinet from 1992-1997 and Principal Opposition Spokesman on Europe from 1983-92. He was named Joint Parliamentarian of the Year in 1992. 

Lord (George) Robertson is Vice Chair of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Chairs the FIA Foundation and Western Ferries (Clyde) Ltd, is a Senior Counsellor with The Cohen Group (Washington DC) and has held many other positions with institutions around the world. He is also co-chair of the Responsible Energy Forum and a Special Adviser to BP plc – serving in both roles to support the transition to renewable and the work towards Net Zero. 

He is one of the sixteen Knights of the Thistle (KT), a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG), and among several high international honours received, he was awarded the highest American civilian honour, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2003.

Lord Robertson said, “I am deeply honoured to accept the position of Chancellor of the University of Dundee. I have always held a strong connection to the University since I was a student, and opted to receive my degree from Dundee rather than St Andrews at a time when the University was forming its own strong identity, having previously been part of St Andrews.

“I look forward to helping the University, our staff, students and global community as we continue to make a great social impact and transform lives.”

Amanda Millar, Chair of the University’s governing Court, said, “We are delighted that Lord Robertson will be our new Chancellor. His bond with the University stretches back to our earliest days as an independent institution, and he brings vast experience as an international statesman that will be invaluable to us as a global university.”

Lord Robertson will be formally installed as Chancellor during the University’s Graduation celebrations in November.

He succeeds Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who has served as Chancellor since 2018. Other previous Chancellors include following HM The Queen Mother (1967-77), Lord Dalhousie (1977-92), Sir James Black (1992-2006), and Lord Patel (2006-2017).

The Role of University Chancellor 

The Chancellor is the nominal head of the University, with ceremonial responsibilities including presiding at Graduations. 

The Chancellor helps to promote the University’s profile, and participates in staff, student, alumni and other events. 

The appointment process

An appointing committee comprising members of the Court and Senate and including the President of the Students’ Association considers the appointment of the Chancellor. 

Candidates are reviewed against key criteria including: an ability to act as a champion and supporter of the University, a commitment to the University’s values, a strong affinity to the life and work of the University, and the ability to stand as an inspirational and charismatic role model to staff, students and graduates alike.

The committee makes a single recommendation for the appointment of a Chancellor to a meeting of University Court.

The Court approved the nomination of Lord Robertson at its meeting of 12 September, and he thus becomes Chancellor.


Roddy Isles

Head of Corporate Communication

+44 (0)1382 384910