The Principal is responsible for the overall operation of the University.
Professor Sir Timothy O'Shea BSc (Sussex), PhD (Leeds), DUniv (Heriot-Watt), DUniv (Strathclyde), LL.D hc (McGill), D.hc (St. Petersburg HSS), FRSE was appointed Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Edinburgh in October 2002.
He is President of the Senatus Academicus and ex-officio, a member of the University Court. The Principal is nominated by the Curators of Patronage and appointed by the University Court.
As Vice-Chancellor he confers degrees on behalf of the Chancellor HRH The Princess Royal.
Timothy Michael Martin O’Shea was born in Hamburg in 1949, the son of John Patrick O’Shea of Balleen Castle, County Kilkenny, and Elisabet Hedwig Oberhof from Hindenburg, Upper Silesia. He was educated in Essex and holds a BSc in Mathematics and Experimental Psychology from Sussex University and a PhD in Computer Based Learning from Leeds University.
Tim worked as a researcher in the Computer Science Department of the University of Texas at Austin, the Bionics Research Lab at the University of Edinburgh and the Systems Concepts Lab, Xerox PARC, California.
In 1978 he founded the Computers and Learning Research Group at the Open University and was promoted to a personal chair in Information Technology and Education in 1986. He was appointed Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Open University in 1993.
In 1997 he was elected Master of Birkbeck and subsequently appointed Provost of Gresham College and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of London. He held all three posts concurrently until he returned to Edinburgh as Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University in October 2002.
His academic output, produced mainly in collaboration with others and on topics relating to computer based learning, artificial intelligence, and mathematics education, includes 10 books, 22 BBC television programmes and over 100 journal articles.
He is currently researching Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and during study leave at Stanford University in early 2012 initiated a partnership with Coursera, a social entrepreneurship company that operates a MOOC platform.
In 2013 Tim is serving as:
Tim served as the Chair of Jisc (2008-2013), as Universities Scotland’s Vice Convener and as Deputy President of the French Government’s Initiatives d’ Excellence en Formations Innovantes. He has also served two terms both as a Trustee of the British Council and as a member of the main Board of Scottish Enterprise.
Tim’s fellowships are from:
He was awarded a University of London Union Laurel for his services to part time students.
He has been given outstanding contribution awards by the governments of Japan and the People’s Republic of China for his work on promoting academic co-operation between Scotland and those two countries.
He holds honorary degrees from Heriot-Watt University, University of Strathclyde, McGill University, and Saint Petersburg University of Humanities and Social Sciences.
Tim was awarded a knighthood in the Queen's 2008 New Year Honours in recognition of his services to higher education.
Tim is married to Lady O’Shea, aka Eileen Scanlon, who is the Regius Professor of Open Education at the Open University. They are very proud of their four children who are respectively: a playwright and college lecturer; comedian and script writer; an anthropologist researching how robots are regarded in Japan; a philosopher and traveller.
Tim is an enthusiastic hill walker and particularly enjoys the Pentlands and north Kilkenny countryside. He is also an avid reader of history books, and an active member of the Oyster Club of Edinburgh and the Caledonian Club of London.
This article was published on Dec 5, 2013