Mike Hopkins, the principal and chief executive of Sussex Downs College, which has campuses in Eastbourne, Lewes and Newhaven, has announced his intention to retire in spring next year.
The announcement comes as consultation gets underway for the college to merge with Sussex Coast College in Hastings.
Mr Hopkins, who lives in Eastbourne, said, “On my arrival at Sussex Downs College in 2015, I made a commitment to staff, students and the wider community that I would fulfil a three-year tenure as principal and chief executive.
“With this commitment in mind, I have informed the board of governors it remains my intention to retire from education soon after the proposed new college is formed.
“I believe much has been accomplished during my time at the college and while a potential merger between two large colleges will always present challenges, our college is in a good place to meet and overcome them.
“Until my retirement next year, I will be working tirelessly with colleagues in Lewes, Eastbourne, Newhaven and Hastings with the utmost rigour and determination to achieve the first-class centre of learning that East Sussex deserves.”
Henry Ball, chair of the Sussex Downs Corporation, praised what he called “the energy and commitment” Mr Hopkins has brought to the college.
“We are extremely grateful to Mike for the fantastic contribution he has made to the college,” said Mr Ball.
“He has created a new energy and positive sense of future in the college and I know how committed he has become to the every aspect of college life.
“As such, we are delighted he has agreed to help the college through the proposed merger with Sussex Coast College.
“Our current students will continue to benefit from his energy, drive and passion for ensuring they achieve the best possible outcomes from their time at our college.”
The two colleges will make an announcement on the principal and CEO designate role for the new college group within the next fortnight.
Mr Hopkins entered the world of teaching in 1981 at South Cheshire College, Crewe. His career has taken him to various locations across the country, including three spells as principal.
He was also a senior civil servant leading on a major change programme impacting colleges across Wales.
In 2011, Mr Hopkins was elected as chairperson of the Principal’s Professional Council, a position he held until 2014.
Prior to joining Sussex Downs College, he was principal and chief executive at Middlesbrough College, where he oversaw substantial growth in student numbers, and the investment of £30million in additional facilities.
Although retiring from the world of academia, Mr Hopkins plans on remaining part of the Eastbourne community, where he lives.
He says he is keen to support charities, business, community groups playing an active role when he formally retires during 2018.