UCD president Professor Andrew Deeks has announced his resignation to take up the role of vice-Chancellor at Murdoch University, in Perth, Western Australia.
Prof Deeks, the first Australian to lead an Irish university, is leaving in April 2022, 20 months before his 10-year term is due to end.
He said his early departure arose from the chance to return to his hometown for an opportunity he could not pass up.
Prof Deeks is taking over the position vacated by Prof Eeva Leinonen, who was recently appointed president of Maynooth University.
UCD deputy president and registrar Professor Mark Rogers will become acting president on his departure, and will hold that role until the UCD governing authority appoints the next president.
Prof Deeks said he had greatly enjoyed his time at UCD, despite the various challenges Irish universities had faced over those eight years.
“My family and I have felt very welcome and at home here in Ireland, and we have built some great friendships,” he said.
“However, my 10-year term is rapidly coming to an end, and the opportunity to return to my hometown to lead a university which is well-positioned to thrive in this time of disruption and opportunity, a time where the need to build a sustainable global society is increasingly recognised was one I could not pass up.”
Prof Deeks said UCD was in a strong position academically and financially, with exciting plans for the future, and had come through the trials of the pandemic in good shape.
He said he regretted that he would not be at UCD to see current major infrastructural projects through to their conclusion.
Under his leadership UCD increased the quality, quantity and impact of its research, the satisfaction of its students, and the number of spinout companies being produced. A focus has been local, national and global engagement.
During Prof Deeks’ time in office growth in non-exchequer UCD income rose of 40pc, facilitating a rise of 25pc in student numbers alongside an improvement in the student-academic staff ratio.
Infrastructural developments include projects to cater for the growth in numbers and research activity, with an student bed spaces on campus of 1,200.
UCD governing authority chair Marie O’Connor said they were “ sorry to be losing Andrew before the end of his term, but we understand his decision”.
“Andrew’s term as president started during a period of austerity and funding cuts and extended through the global pandemic,” she said. “The issue of sustainable funding for Irish universities remains unresolved. However, under Andrew’s leadership, UCD has looked to its own enterprise to generate the funding needed to strengthen the performance and impact of the university.”
The UCD governing authority will start the search for Prof Deeks’ successor shortly.