The dean of the Johns Hopkins University's Krieger School of Arts and Sciences has abruptly resigned after only 18 months in the position.
In a statement sent by e-mail to faculty and students this week, President William R. Brody said Herbert L. Kessler left for "personal and professional reasons."
An announcement of an interim or permanent replacement is expected today.
Kessler, who was chairman of the history of art department before becoming dean in May 1998, refused to comment yesterday on the reasons for his resignation.
"Deans come and go, but the school is very strong because the faculty and students are so incredible," he said.
"As far as I'm concerned, I'm leaving on wonderful terms."
Brody's announcement said that Kessler will be on sabbatical until the end of next year.
"I am very much looking forward to that," Kessler said. "After that I plan to return to teaching in the history of art department, if they will have me. I assume they probably still will."
Kessler's departure was the prime topic of conversation on the campus yesterday, though no one seemed to know the reason for his resignation and top administrators remained mum on the details.
"If they wanted to do something discreetly, this was not the way," said one faculty member who asked to remain anonymous.
A specialist in medieval art who earned his doctorate at Princeton, Kessler has been at Hopkins since 1976. He held the Charlotte Bloomberg Chair in the art history department before becoming dean.
He took over as dean after more than two years of interim leadership.
Kessler's tenure as dean had received generally favorable reviews for his strong leadership, including a diversity initiative and measures designed to improve undergraduate education.