FORMER city council leader Gordon Matheson today resigned as a councillor to take up a new role with Strathclyde University.

He has been appointed Visiting Professor with the Institute for Future Cities, part of the economics department.

It was set up to research ways to improve the quality of life for people living in cities across the world, working with commercial organisations as well as local and national government.

Mr Matheson is expected to write, guest lecture and assist with research projects and other associated work throughout the UK and abroad.

After 17 years as a councillor representing the city centre, holding the positions of education convener and City Treasurer and spending more than five years as council leader, he has quit the city council with immediate effect.

His resignation will spark a by-election for his Anderston/City ward with voting likely to take place on the same day as the Scottish Parliament elections in May.

Mr Matheson said: "As a cities man, I am delighted to accept this prestigious appointment which comes at a perfect time for me.

"Having served as a city leader I am fortunate to be in a position to still contribute to the development of international cities in a non political capacity.

"I will particularly relish working, as part of a hugely impressive team at Strathclyde university, with the leaderships of cities, businesses and government to help them grow the economy, tackle inequalities and refresh our democracy.

"Cities are the economic and social powerhouses of the nation."

Mr Matheson said his highlights as council leader included welcoming Pope Benedict to Glasgow in 2010 which he described as a joyful day, leaving memories which will last a lifetime.

He also recalls with obvious glee that he led the city's Labour group into the local government elections two years later and emerged with a large majority, despite claims the council would fall to the SNP.

Another highlight was helping secure the £1.1billion City Deal which will fund 20 major infrastructure projects in and around Glasgow including an airport rail link.

Mr Matheson said: "That will create 29,000 jobs so for years to come the effects of the City Deal will be felt in the city and throughout the region.

"Without a doubt, the overall highlight of my time as leader was having the honour of delivering and leading the city through the best Commonwealth Games there has ever been.

"Glasgow is still currently the UK Council of the Year which was won while I was leader and I was the Herald local politician of the year in 2012 and 2014 - the only councillor to have won the award twice."

He is equally proud of the decision to rebrand the city in 2013 with what went on to be the award winning People Make Glasgow campaign.

The low points of his political career were the Clutha helicopter tragedy and the George Square bin lorry crash.

But while Mr Matheson clearly relishes the council's high profile successes, he lights up most when talking about the people he has represented as a local councillor.

He said: "I am very grateful and honoured to have served as councillor for 17 wonderful years in the city I love.

"It has been a real pleasure to have served the people in my ward and leaving them will be the hard bit.

"I wish them and my former colleagues every success and future happiness."