Sir Keith Burnett will retire “in the coming months”, the University announced, as it begins the process of recruiting a new leader.
Sir Keith became the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield in 2007 and was previously the Head of the Division of Maths and Physical Sciences at the University of Oxford.
During his time as President and Vice-Chancellor, the Mandarin Chinese speaker has focused on the development of international partnerships, and in 2016 was honoured by the Vice-Premier of China for his commitment to Chinese language and culture. He was knighted in 2013.
The chair of the University council, Tony Pedder said: “Over the last decade, the University of Sheffield has grown in standing as a centre of global scholarship committed to making a difference in our own region and around the world. Both in the UK and globally, we are known as a University which speaks fearlessly for the value of international scholarship to do good, willing to work with industry and government in progressive ways and yet still one true to our founding mission of public education.
“Sir Keith has personally campaigned with students, other universities and industry to persuade the UK to adopt policies which signal welcome for the overseas staff and students who are so crucial to our University and country. As a scientist and an educational leader, his advice has been sought by governments and published around the world, raising the profile of Sheffield in the process.”
Sir Keith said he was “truly honoured” to have led the University over the past decade.
“There could be no greater privilege than to help talented young people in our own locality and right across the globe to achieve their own educational potential and to see our scholars do real good across the world,” he said. “As we enter this period of transition, I am now looking forward to helping secure the opportunities we have begun to develop and to prepare to hand over the responsibility of leadership to whoever is chosen to be the next Vice-Chancellor.”