Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski
Born in Germany, Professor von Prondzynski's family moved to Ireland in the early sixties, returning to West Germany in 1969. He was educated at Headfort School, Kells, County Meath and Thomas-Morus Gymnasium in Oelde, Germany. Having worked briefly 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 at the University of Cambridge in 1983.
He began his academic career in 1980 as 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 Presidency of DCU.
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 in 2009), major campus investment and development, and positioning DCU as a major contributor to Ireland's global 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 rose 21 places in the Times Higher Education World Rankings in two years (from 300 in 2007, to 279 in 2009).
He is an international authority on employment and commercial law, and is an active commentator on academic and social issues through the media and his blog (A University Blog) now Ireland's most widely read.
Professor von Prondzynski has published widely in the field of industrial relations and employment law, co-authoring the first academic textbook on Irish employment law.
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 and the US-Ireland R&D Partnership. He is a non-executive Director of the world's largest e-learning company, Skillsoft Ltd, and a director of the Irish Universities Quality Board.
He is married to Dr. Heather Ingman, a Lecturer in 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.