Professor Chapman has been the principal and vice-chancellor of Heriot-Watt University in Scotland since 2009. With a research background in biological inorganic chemistry, he has previously held various management roles at the University of Edinburgh, most recently as vice-principal.
Professor Chapman will commence a five-year contract at ECU in early 2015.
"I am immensely impressed by what I see at Edith Cowan University. It is an institution with excellent values, a clear identity and a strong vision for the future," he said.
ECU is currently the fifth largest tertiary education provider in WA by student enrolment numbers. It achieved a 2.1 per cent increase in revenue to $382 million in the 2013 calendar year.
During his time in Scotland, Professor Chapman led significant improvements to the student experience that saw Heriot-Watt rise from 108th position in the 2009 UK National Student Survey to fifth in 2012.
"I am very pleased that Professor Chapman has accepted the role. His leadership and experience will be great assets to take ECU into this next phase of its development as a modern, innovative university," ECU chancellor Hendy Cowan said.