Professor Colin Riordan took up the post of President and Vice-Chancellor at Cardiff University on 1 September 2012. Previously he was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Essex, having been appointed in October 2007. He moved to Essex from Newcastle University, where he had been Pro Vice-Chancellor and Provost of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences since August 2005.
Professor Riordan taught English as a foreign language at Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg in Germany (1982-84) and was Lecturer, then Senior Lecturer in German at Swansea University (1986-1998). He became Professor of German at Newcastle University in 1998, where he remained until his move to Essex in 2007. He has published widely on post-war German literature and culture, including editing books on the writers Jurek Becker, Uwe Johnson and Peter Schneider. Other research interests include the history of environmental ideas in German culture.
He is a Vice-President and Board member of Universities UK, the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, the Edge Foundation, NARIC, UCAS and the Equality Challenge Unit. In 2013 he became chair of Higher Education Wales, the body which represents the interests of Higher Education Institutions in Wales. As chair of the International Policy Network of Universities UK, he is active in promoting and advancing the role of UK universities aboard.
He is also chair of the UK Higher Education International Unit, and is a member of the International Education Council sponsored by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.