The vice-chancellor of Charles Sturt University has announced he will retire after taking a six-month sabbatical in June.
Professor Andrew Vann was due to return to the university this month following his study leave. The university would not comment on whether his research had been concluded.
His retirement will mark the close of nine years at the head of the regional university and comes a year ahead of when his term was due to end.
In a statement, the Bathurst-based professor said it had been an "honour and a privilege" to serve for so long at CSU.
"2020 has been a very disruptive year for everyone and after a period of reflection during sabbatical I believe it is the right time to move on to the next phase of my life," Professor Vann said.
"I wish the University, its staff and students every success into the future."
For the past six months, while Professor Vann has been on study leave, the role of acting vice-chancellor has been filled by Professor John Germov from the Wagga campus.
The sabbatical announcement came off the back of the university's first round of job cuts to administrative staff.
The second round affecting academic positions is expected to be finalised early next year, according to Dr Helen Masterman-Smith, Wagga-based representative of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU).
"We're confident there won't be any forced redundancies, so that is a silver lining as we're heading into Christmas," she said.
Speaking to The Daily Advertiser following Professor Vann's announcement on Friday, Dr Masterman-Smith said his retirement has done nothing to buoyed staff trust in the university's management.
"People are feeling up in the air and anxious," she said.
"Confidences in management is extremely low at the moment."
While the announcement was not unexpected, Dr Masterman-Smith said the union fears the decision lacks "upfront transparency".
"It was questioned in a town hall meeting a few weeks ago [whether Professor Vann would return] and the answer that was given was that it was a private matter," she said.
A recruitment process had begun in preparation for the end of Professor Vann's time at the university, and it is understood Professor Germov will continue in the role of acting vice-chancellor.
Chancellor Dr Michele Allan thanked Professor Vann for his leadership.
"Andy led the University through a period of incredible growth, and through some challenging times," Dr Allan said.
"I want to thank him for his dedication to the University and to regional Australia."