The University of Southampton vice-chancellor, Sir Christopher Snowden – one of the UK sector’s highest-paid leaders – has announced he will retire in spring 2019.
Sir Christopher, who joined Southampton in October 2015 after leading the University of Surrey, is a former Universities UK president and was knighted for his contributions to engineering and higher education in 2012.
He suffered a serious injury shortly before joining Southampton.
The university will begin the appointment process for a successor immediately.
Philip Greenish, chair of council at Southampton, said: “Sir Christopher joined us to enhance Southampton’s reputation as one of the world’s leading universities and to prepare the university for a rapidly changing higher education environment.
“His transformation strategy and his global ambitions for our university are already delivering successes, with the university now streamlined into a new five-faculty structure, finance secured to enable major investment in a better student and staff experience, a return to the global top 100 this year with significant improvement in UK league tables, the award of a silver in the teaching excellence and student outcomes framework, and an increased overall satisfaction score in this year’s National Student Survey.”
He added that Sir Christopher’s “achievements over recent years are all the more impressive in the light of the serious injuries he suffered in an accident shortly before he joined us and which he has continued to address with great fortitude”.
The size of Sir Christopher's pay package at Southampton, which rose to £433,000 in 2016-17, had attracted criticism.
Sir Christopher called Southampton “an extraordinary institution, whose public impact globally, nationally and regionally increases every year – and whose staff, students and alumni continue to inspire me daily”.
He added: “This has been an extremely hard decision, but with the first stage of our university’s 10-year transformation plan now successfully delivered, I do feel it is the right time for the university, and for my family and me, to retire.”