Gavin Henderson is to step down as principal of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama after 13 years in the post.
Henderson joined the school in September 2007, but will leave in August next year.
“By the time I step down, I will have had 13 very enjoyable years leading Central and am very proud of what we have achieved in this time. Central has never been in a stronger position, underlined by the opening of the wonderful landmark new building,” he said, adding: “I will soon be 72 and wish to dedicate more time to various projects in my native Brighton and to respond to calls to write several books. I shall also be helping to develop an extensive artist residency programme at Hawkwood, near Stroud.”
Henderson, who is a previous artistic director of the Brighton Festival, also said that a return to “festival production is not out of the question”.
His departure follows controversy last year, after Henderson suggested introducing quotas to boost numbers of black, Asian and ethnic minority students might reduce the quality of the student intake.
Following this, Henderson faced calls for his resignation, as part of a protest that saw 250 students and staff walking out.
Prior to joining Central, he was principal of Trinity College of Music, from 1994 to 2006, and was a founder council member of Arts Council England.
John Willis, chair of governors at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, said Henderson had been “a committed and successful principal” and added that his decision to step down marks “the end of an era”.
“Gavin’s drive, dedication and leadership have been integral to so much that the school has achieved in his time with us. He has developed a clear vision, raised our profile, achieved significant development of donors in the UK and the US, and has overseen the opening of a spectacular new state-of-the-art building,” he said.
Michael Grandage, president of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, said Henderson’s leadership had seen the drama school evolve “from one of the great British drama schools into a world-beating Royal Conservatoire offering a unique training in the dramatic arts”.
“It is a far-reaching legacy that has already produced many leading practitioners in creative disciplines that would have been unthinkable before his arrival over a decade ago,” he added, claiming Henderson had “helped transform the landscape for arts training and arts research”.