University of Sunderland vice-chancellor Shirley Atkinson is to resign after four years in the role.
Staff at the university were informed this morning that Ms Atkinson was to leave in the summer due to a change in her circumstances at home.
She has been at the university for 10 years, spending six years as deputy vice-chancellor and four as vice-chancellor and chief executive.
She said: "It has been an enormous privilege to have led the university for the last four years.
"With the support of dedicated, exceptional staff we have achieved significant outcomes for our students.
"We have grown our UK student base by over 16% in the last year and witnessed significant growth at our campuses in London and in Hong Kong.
“Students are attracted to the university to study our relevant and contemporary programmes which we deliver in a supportive student-centred environment.
"Academic teams at Sunderland are working with industry and public sector partners to deliver real life solutions for the challenges we face today and this is reflected in our research informed curriculum.
“The university makes a huge contribution to the social, economic and cultural life of the region, and I will watch with pride as it continues to grow and thrive in the years ahead.
“Unfortunately my home circumstances have changed and I have notified the board of governors that I will be unable to fulfil my role beyond the summer.”
John Mowbray, chair of the university's board of governors, added: “We are deeply saddened to see Shirley leave us.
"We are enormously grateful for the contribution she has made to the university over the past 10 years.
"Her thoughtful leadership and absolute commitment to the aims and aspirations of the university community have been outstanding.
“We fully respect her decision to leave and have accepted her resignation with deep regret.
"She has led the university with passion, integrity and warmth and has earned great respect within the wider community and the higher education sector.
"The board has started the selection process for a new vice-chancellor.”