The vice chancellor at the University of Sunderland will take up his new role as university president in September, two years before he plans to retire.
Professor Peter Fidler has been the university’s vice chancellor for 15 years and has led the university through a period of major change in higher education policy and funding.
He said: “I have been proud to lead the university through a period of change and transformation.
“With exceptional colleagues and students, we are now a truly international university which provides huge economic value and impact to our city and region.
“In the next two years it is vital that we secure our global and civic partnerships, and take advantage of the many exciting opportunities in front of us.
“Over the next period we will build on our success and underpin the university’s capacity to become a great civic and international university.”
Working in partnership with universities and colleges in over 20 countries, the university also has almost 5,000 international students studying for University of Sunderland degrees in their own countries.
The university will undertake an appointment process in 2015 for a new vice chancellor to be in post from January 2016.
Shirley Atkinson, currently the university’s deputy vice chancellor and deputy chief executive will become the university’s interim vice chancellor and chief executive from September until January 2016.
The chairman of the university’s board of governors, Paul Callaghan, said: “The board recognises how much the university has achieved under Professor Fidler’s leadership.
“The university has significant ambitions for international and strategic partnership developments.
“The board has asked Peter to take the role of president to enable the university to develop our international and civic partnerships in line with our ambitious plans.
“He has great respect with our partners and with civic, business and education leaders, both at home and overseas.
“I am delighted to secure Peter’s ongoing commitment to the university for this next exciting phase of our development.”