Between 1850 and 1924, the Vice-Chancellor (Vice-Provost until 1860) was elected annually by the Fellows of the Senate from its members.

Since 1924, the Vice-Chancellor has been appointed by Senate. The Vice-Chancellor is principal executive officer of the University, with responsibility for promoting the interests and furthering the development of the University. The title of Vice-Chancellor was changed to Vice-Chancellor and Principal in 1955.


– Vice-Provosts: 
1851-1853 Sir Charles Nicholson Bt, MD Edin HonDCL Oxf HonLLD Camb
1854-1860 The Hon Francis Lewis Shaw Merewether, BA Camb
– Vice-Chancellors: 
1860-1862 The Hon Francis Lewis Shaw Merewether, BA Camb 
1863-1965 The Hon Edward Deas-Thomson KCMG CB
1865-1869 The Hon John Hubert Plunkett, BA Dub 
1869-1883 The Rev Canon Robert Allwood,  BA Camb
1883-1886 The Hon Sir William Charles Windeyer, MA Sydney HonLLD Camb 
The Hon Sir Henry Normand MacLaurin, MA LLD StAnd MD LLD Edin 
The Hon Sir Arthur Renwick, BA Sydney MD Edin
1891-1892  Henry Chamberlain Russell CMG, BA Sydney, FRS
His Honour Judge Alfred Paxton Backhouse, MA Sydney
1902-1904 The Hon Mr Justice Archibald Henry Simpson, MA Camb 
1904-1906  Sir Philip Sydney Jones, MD Lond
1909-1911 The Hon Sir William Portus Cullen KCMG, MA LLD Sydney
Frank Leverrier KC, BA BSc Sydney
Cecil Purser, BA MB ChM Sydney
1919-1921 The Hon Sir David Gilbert Ferguson,  BA Sydney


– Vice-Chancellors: 
1924-1928 Professor Sir Mungo William MacCallum KCMG, MA Glas LLD Sydney HonDLitt Oxf 
1928-1947 Sir Robert Strachan Wallace, BA Oxf MA LLD Aberd LLD
1947-1955 Emeritus Professor Sir Stephen Henry Roberts CMG, MA LittD Melb DSc(Econ) Lond
HonLLD Brist, Br Col & McG HonDCL Durh HonDLitt UNE 
– Vice-Chancellor and Principals:
1955-1967 Emeritus Professor Sir Stephen Henry Roberts CMG, MA LittD Melb DSc(Econ) Lond
HonLLD Brist, Br Col & McG HonDCL Durh HonDLitt UNE  
1967-1981 Professor Sir Bruce Rodda Williams KBE, BA Melb MA Adel MA(Econ) Manc HonDLitt Keele
HonLLD Melb & Manc HonDEcon Qld HonDSc Aston HonDLitt Sydney, HonFIE Aust FASSA 
1981-1990 Professor John Manning Ward AO, MA LLB DUniv Sydney HonDLitt Waseda, FAHA FASSA FRAHS  
1990-1996 Professor Donald McNicol, BA Adel PhD Camb
1996 Professor Derek John Anderson, BSc Nott PhD Wales, FLS
1996-2008 Professor Gavin Brown AO,  MA StAnd PhD Newcastle(UK) HonLLD StAnd & Dundee, FAA CorrFRSE
2008–  Dr Michael Spence, BA LLB Sydney DPhil PGDipTheol Oxf