Professor Sir Gerry McCormac FRSE, FSA, FRSA, FHEA
Principal and Vice-Chancellor
Professor Sir Gerry McCormac has been Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Stirling since May 2010.
During this time, he has overseen a significant improvement in Stirling’s research and international presence and led the regeneration and development of the University estate. Building on the organisational values, which are typified by the phrase ‘a place where ability not background is valued’, he has led the transformation of the student experience, enhanced the global reputation of the University and greatly extended the University’s reach, relevance and connectivity.
The University’s international connections have grown considerably under Sir Gerry’s leadership. He led the creation of a joint venture with INTO University Partnerships, which resulted in a teaching centre for international students on campus and a significant increase in international student recruitment. He also established a presence with the British Council in Shanghai and oversaw the development of transnational education with partners in the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Hong Kong. These build on and complement pre-existing transnational education initiatives in Vietnam, Oman and other countries.
The University’s internationally renowned research has been recognised with a Queen’s Anniversary Prize on two occasions; for its work on social marketing (2014) and aquaculture (2019). In social sciences, support for dementia research continues to inform policy change globally and has resulted in partnerships with commercial companies.
Continued emphasis on increasing the University’s research capacity led to the University playing a critical role in delivering the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, signed in spring 2020, with £27m of funding from the UK and Scottish Governments being invested in University-led projects. The Deal will see the development of Scotland’s International Environment Centre and a new Institute of Aquaculture on the University campus, further strengthening relationships with business and industry and placing the University’s innovation and expertise at the centre of efforts to tackle some of the most pressing challenges facing the world.
A £40m programme of investment in student residences, completed in 2015, has been followed by a £21m Central Campus development that will enhance research and learning facilities, and a £20m redevelopment of the University’s sports centre. The emphasis on sport and in particular, the development of high-quality coaching and infrastructure have helped student athletes win medals at Olympic and Commonwealth Games and World Championships. This strong track record was recognised with the University being Times and Sunday Times UK Sports University of the Year 2020.
In 2020, it was announced that Sir Gerry will take on the role of Convenor of Universities Scotland. The position, which runs for two years will see him chair the group representing Scotland’s 19 higher education institutions at a crucial time, as the sector plays a key role in supporting the nation’s recovery from the global coronavirus pandemic. Sir Gerry served as Vice Convener of Universities Scotland between 2016 and 2020 and is an active member of Universities UK.
Prior to his appointment at Stirling, Sir Gerry was Pro Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast from 2001 to 2010. He has a background in science, and has undertaken research into both Space Physics and Carbon Dating. He previously worked on the NASA Dynamics Explorer satellite programme at the University of Michigan, before becoming Director of the Carbon Dating facility at Queen’s University Belfast, where he undertook research into global carbon cycling and the dating of historic monuments.
Professor McCormac was knighted in the New Year’s Honours List 2021, for services to education and to the economy.
Fellowships, Boards and Committees
- Fellow – Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE)
- Fellow – Society of Antiquaries (FSA)
- Fellow Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
- Fellow Royal Society of Arts, Commerce and Manufacturers (FRSA)
- Universities Scotland – Convenor, 2020-2022
- Universities UK – Vice President, Scotland
- Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA) Scottish Committee – Member
- Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association (UCEA) – Board Member
- All Party Parliamentary University Group – Council Member
- Invest Northern Ireland – Vice-Chair
- Business in the Community – Board Member
- Institute of Directors – NI Board Member
- Archaeology Committee – Royal Irish Academy
- Independent Review of Teacher Employment in Scotland for Scottish Government (Chair)
- Universities Scotland Commonwealth Games Committee (Chair)
- UUK Innovation & Grown Policy Network – Member
- Universities Scotland – Vice-Convener, 2016-2020
The Principal and Vice-Chancellor is the Chief Academic and Administrative Officer of the University. The Principal presides over the Academic Council and, as Vice-Chancellor, deputises for the Chancellor and confers degrees in his or her absence.
As Chief Executive of the University, the Principal is responsible by Statute for the effective working and good order of the University. With overall responsibility for the executive management and day-to-day activities of the University, the Principal is accountable to the Court for the discharge of his responsibilities.
The responsibilities of the Principal may broadly be defined as:
- Implementing the decisions of the Court
- Initiating discussion and consultation on proposals concerning the University’s future
- Exercising academic leadership and promoting the strategic development of the University