Strathclyde Principal Awarded Knight Grand Cross in New Year’s Honours

The Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, Professor Sir Jim McDonald FREng FRSE, has been appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in the King’s New Year’s Honours list.

The award is for his Services to Engineering, to Education and to Energy.

Created in 1917, Knight and Dame Grand Cross is the most senior rank of the Order of the British Empire. Fewer than 115 have been award in the past 60 years, with only 27 awarded this century.

Sir Jim said: “I am deeply honoured to have been recognised by His Majesty in this way. It is a huge privilege to be Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde and to hold the Presidency of the Royal Academy of Engineering, one of the UK’s National Academies. The discipline of engineering – particularly in the field of energy – and the institution of Strathclyde are both very close to my heart and to receive such recognition for my work in these areas is incredibly humbling.

“I lead a fantastic team at Strathclyde and this award also recognises the help I’ve received from a huge number of people who have contributed to my personal development, professional opportunities and career over many years in academia, industry and public service. Of course, none of this would have been possible without the support and encouragement of my wife Eileen and that of my children, family and friends.”

Convener of the University of Strathclyde Court, Dame Sue Bruce, said: “Sir Jim is an inspirational engineer and leader, and Strathclyde has flourished under his direction. He has unquestioning commitment to his discipline and our institution and this very highest recognition is thoroughly deserved. The entire Strathclyde community is proud and delighted by his achievement.”

Sir Jim was knighted in the Queen’s Jubilee Birthday Honours List in June 2012 for services to education, engineering and the economy and was elected President of the Royal Academy of Engineering in October 2019, becoming the first Scot to hold the post.

Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, said: “Sir Jim has provided outstanding leadership as President of our Academy over the last five years, steering the organisation through the pandemic and through a period of significant growth in scale and impact. He is a passionate advocate for engineering careers, making time to mentor people at all levels.

“Sir Jim truly embodies the spirit of engineering. The son of a ropemaker who was the first in his family to go to university, he exemplifies socially progressive leadership of the highest calibre and I am delighted that he has received this recognition.”

A three-time graduate of Strathclyde, having taken his BSc, MSc and PhD degrees in the areas of electronic and electrical engineering, power systems and energy economics, Sir Jim worked in the electrical utility sector for seven years before returning to Strathclyde in 1984 as a University Grants Commission New Blood Lecturer in Electrical Engineering.

He was appointed to the Rolls-Royce Chair in Electrical Power Systems in 1993 and became Principal and Vice-Chancellor of Strathclyde in March 2009.

Sir Jim is a member of the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology; he co-chairs, with the First Minister, the Scottish Government’s Energy Advisory Board; and he is chair of the Independent Glasgow Economic Leadership Board. He co-Chairs the Sino-UK Engineering and Technology Steering Committee with the President of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and is also a Trustee of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering.

He is a Fellow of Royal Academy of Engineering, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institute of Physics, the Energy Institute, the Royal Society of Arts, an Honorary Fellow of the Irish Academy of Engineering, a Foreign Fellow of the Chinese Society for Electrical Engineering and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Glasgow. He has been inducted as an International Member of the US National Academy of Engineering and as a Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Sir Jim currently also holds several senior non-executive business appointments on the Boards of ScottishPower, the Weir Group and the UK National Physical Laboratory. He chairs two of the pan-Scotland University Research Partnerships in Energy and Engineering.