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.
Professor Riordan is Vice-Chair of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and a Board member of the Edge Foundation. He is a Board member of UCAS and chairs the Welsh Higher Education Brussels Board.
Professor Riordan became Chair of the IDP Connect Strategic Advisory Group in March 2021.