Former Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan is to oversee development of NUI Maynooth.
Baroness O'Loan, who was appointed to Britain's House of Lords last year, will play a key role in setting the strategic direction of Ireland's fastest growing university.
The former law lecturer takes up the post of chair of the NUI Maynooth governing authority immediately.
"It is a great honour to be invited to take on this role by an Irish university for which I have so much respect," she said.
"This is a pivotal time for NUI Maynooth as a modern, growing, dynamic university. While these are difficult times for the education sector, the depth of teaching and research excellence at NUI Maynooth, its strong track record and in particular its links with industry mean it is well positioned to continue its development."
Baroness O'Loan is a trained solicitor, lecturer and former special envoy for conflict. A native of Hertfordshire, England, she served as the north's first Police Ombudsman, holding the post for seven years to 2007.
Professor Tom Collins, president of NUI Maynooth, said Baroness O'Loan was a figure of national and international repute who has already made an enormous contribution to the island of Ireland.
"She is a thoughtful leader and visionary communicator with academic pedigree who has a track record of outstanding accomplishment. It is a tremendous honour for NUI Maynooth that she lends her association to the university," said Prof Collins.
Baroness O'Loan was conferred with an honorary doctorate of law from NUI Maynooth and later that year appointed by the Government as its first Roving Ambassador and Special Envoy for Conflict, focusing initially on East Timor.
In 2007 she was made Dame Commander of the British Empire before being appointed to the British House of Lords last year.