The Rt Hon Alan Milburn will start as Lancaster University’s Chancellor from January 1 2015.
The chair of the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission and former Health Secretary will take over from mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington, who will have served for 10 years.
Alan Milburn was Labour MP for Darlington (1992 to 2010) and now runs his own consultancy, advising governments and corporations worldwide.
He credits the skills he learned at Lancaster, where he studied history, as a foundation for the whole of his working life and career. He was later awarded an honorary degree in 2000.