Rick Rylance has been chief executive of the Arts and Humanities Research Council for six years and will step down at the end of November.
He is moving to the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, where he is to become director of the Institute of English Studies.
Professor Rylance is also chair of the Research Councils UK executive group. Prior to joining the AHRC he was head of the School of Arts, Languages and Literature at the University of Exeter.
He said that he made the decision with a “mixture of sadness and excitement about the future”, adding that he had enjoyed working at the AHRC.
“It’s been a wonderful six years and being part of the research councils’ commitment to UK research has always felt good. We’ve had great achievements and there’s more to come. There’s a wonderful and healthy future ahead for the AHRC,” he said.
He added that he could not resist the opportunity at the SAS and “will continue to make the case for the humanities and English in particular and celebrate what should be celebrated daily in this country: that is the strength and achievements of our researchers and the importance of our cultural life”.
He said: “I look forward to working with AHRC into the future – albeit in a rather different guise.”
Chair of the AHRC, Sir Drummond Bone, said that Professor Rylance’s departure was a “great loss” to the AHRC and the whole of RCUK.
“His personal leadership propelling his vision of a wider and collaborative role for the research community both nationally and internationally has changed the way in which arts and humanities are viewed by the wider world,” added Sir Drummond.
Professor Rylance was chair of the English sub-panel of the 2008 research assessment exercise and a founding member of the English Subject Centre’s Advisory Board.
His research interests lie in 19th- and 20th-century literature, the intellectual and literary history of these periods, the history of psychology and the psychology of reading.
Roger Kain, dean and chief executive of the SAS, said that the appointment is a “significant moment” for the school.
“We believe his experience in research excellence, the development of public engagement and policy expertise will be vital as we build the Institute of English Studies to become an internationally renowned centre of excellence for the subject,” he said.