Sir Timothy O'Shea, the principal and vice-chancellor of the Edinburgh University, is to receive the 2017 Edinburgh Award.
After 15 years at the helm of Scotland's largest university, the 68-year-old professor has been named by the lord provost as the 11th person to receive the city's annual accolade.
He follows previous winners including JK Rowling and Sir Chris Hoy.
Sir Timothy will retire from his university post in January 2018.
He is also chairman of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
'Beacon of knowledge'
Lord Provost Frank Ross said: "Placing Scotland's capital on the world stage as a beacon of knowledge, research and further education, the University of Edinburgh promotes the city as an international leader for academic excellence.
"Driven in large part by Sir Timothy, the institution has expanded over the last 15 years and asserted itself as one of the top 25 academic institutions in the world under his watch.
"After successfully steering it through the challenges of the UK's economic crisis, Sir Timothy has enhanced the profile of the university and, in doing so, the city for which he is thanked."
He added: "Sir Timothy has done much to promote Edinburgh to the world and to support close to 10,000 jobs, the education of more than 39,000 students, and invaluable academic research.
"I hope this award goes some way towards recognising all that he has achieved for, and on behalf of, the city."
Sir Timothy will be presented with an engraved Loving Cup from the lord provost at a special ceremony later this year.
A cast of his handprints will be set in stone outside the city chambers, beside previous Edinburgh Award winners: Ian Rankin, JK Rowling, George Kerr, Sir Chris Hoy, Professor Peter Higgs, Elizabeth Blackadder, Prof Richard Demarco, Tom Gilzean, Sir Tom Farmer and Ken Buchanan.
Sir Timothy said: "As someone who loves the city and enjoys living and working here so much, I am delighted to receive this award.
"Having been principal of the university for 15 years, and chairman of the Fringe for the past five, I have seen at close quarters how the council has helped both to flourish.
"The university and the Fringe have greatly benefited from the vision and energy demonstrated by councillors and officials.
"It has been an enormous pleasure to work with them in promoting Edinburgh."