Peter MacKinnon, president of the University of Saskatchewan since 1999, is leaving the job in 2012.
"It's a tough decision because I love the work," MacKinnon said Wednesday after announcing his intentions. "I continue to love the work and believe I will until I step out of the office."
He said he has no plans to leave Saskatoon after he finishes, and added his retirement may not be permanent.
MacKinnon, 63, is the eighth person to lead the institution.
Prior to becoming president, he was a professor and dean of the school's college of law.
The university's board of governors announced the job of finding a replacement will begin with the creation of a search committee, likely by this summer.