The Chancellor is the formal head of the University and chairs a team of Council members in strategic decision making and oversight of the University's operations.
The Chancellor's most public role is conferring degrees and diplomas at University graduation ceremonies.
Other ceremonial and ambassadorial duties are undertaken by the Chancellor, ensuring the high standing of the University is maintained in the wider community, both in New Zealand and overseas.
The Chancellor is elected on an annual basis by the members of the University Council.
Dr Royden J Somerville QC, LLM, PhD(Otago) AAMINZ is the current Chancellor and has held this role since 2018. An appointee of the Minister for Tertiary Education, he has been a member of the University Council since 2010 and served as Pro-Chancellor in 2017.
Former Chancellors of the University of Otago
- The Rev. Thomas Burns DD(Edin)
- Sir John Larkins Cheese Richardson
- His Honour Henry Samuel Chapman
- The Rev. Donald McNaughton Stuart DD(St And)
- His Honour Sir Joshua Strange Williams MA LLM(Camb)
- The Hon. Sir James Allen MA(Camb)
- The Rev. Andrew Cameron BA(NZ) HonLLD(Edin)
- The Hon. Sir Thomas Kay Sidey BA LLB(NZ) MLC
- William John Morrell MA(Oxf)
- The Very Rev. David Craig Herron CBE MC MA(NZ) HonsDD(St And)
- The Rev. Hubert James Ryburn CMG MA(NZ & Oxf) BD(Union) HonLLD(Otago)
- Thomas Kay Stuart Sidey CMG LLM(NZ) HonLLD(Otago)
- The Very Rev. John Spenser Somerville ONZ CMG MC MA(NZ) HonDD(St And) HonLLD(Otago)
- James Archibald Valentine BCom(NZ) HonLLD(Otago) FCA
- Judith Olwyn Medlicott CNZM MA LLB HonLLD(Otago)
- Sir Eion Sinclair Edgar KNZM BCom HonLLD(Otago) FCA ACCM
- Lindsay John Brown MNZM BCom HonLLD(Otago)
John Francis Ward BCom (Otago) FCA CFInstD