Professor Sir Christopher Frayling is to step down as rector of the Royal College of Art next year after 13 years in the job.
Frayling, who has worked at the college for 35 years in all, plans to concentrate on writing and broadcasting after he leaves the RCA in summer 2009. He aims to fulfil his life’s ambition of being ‘the David Attenborough of the Arts’.
But he intends to remain close to design. ‘I want to be active as a campaigner in the creative industries,’ he says, adding that he wants to remain independent. ‘I’ve had enough grown-up jobs.’
‘I know intuitively that it’s the right moment to go, he says of his decision to quit. It’s a good moment for the college I don’t want to be like Banquo’s ghost and stay too long.’
Frayling sees as his legacy at the RCA the development of the Battersea campus to house the painting school, the first phase of which was approved by Wandsworth Council last month, and for which he will have raised funds when he leaves.
The challenge facing his successor, he says, is fundraising for the third phase of the college’s development, which centres on the applied arts, such as ceramics and jewellery.
Frayling will not be drawn on a likely successor, and can see arguments for either an internal promotion or an external appointee. But says he would like to see the trawl going international.
‘I like to think I have made [the rectorship] sexy enough to attract the best,’ he says. ‘It is a different kind of appointment [from most in academia]. The rector is very much in the public eye.’