Holyrood most senior official, chief executive Sir Paul Grice, is to leave the Scottish Parliament after 20 years in the job.
Sir Paul is quitting his role in September to take on a new post as principal and vice chancellor of Edinburgh’s Queen Margaret University.
Announcing his departure, he said it had been a “privilege and a pleasure to have been involved with the parliament since the beginning”.
He added: “My enthusiasm for the Parliament and commitment to what it stands for is undimmed, but now feels like the right time to go.”
Presiding officer Ken Macitosh led tributes, saying Sir Paul – who was knighted in 2016 – had brought “professionalism and dedication to the role”, but also praising his “warmth, humour and generosity of spirit”.
Mr Macintosh said: “Paul Grice has been at the heart of the Scottish Parliament from the very beginning. He led the team which established this new open and accessible institution, designed to serve all of the people of Scotland, going on to become our first chief executive, the first clerk of the Scottish Parliament.”
He added: “On a personal note, he has been a guide and a friend to me and to so many other MSPs throughout our time in Parliament, and I cannot thank him enough for the help he gave me when I took on the role of presiding officer.
“His support, advice and wise counsel was always welcome, and I speak on behalf of the whole organisation to say that he will be truly missed.”
MSPs joined in the tributes, with Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw saying Sir Paul had “steered the Scottish Parliament through the first 20 years of its existence, and he’ll be an extremely tough act to follow”.
The Tory added: “He has made a huge contribution in ensuring the Scottish Parliament is an established and high-profile part of Scottish public life.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said he had been “an incredible servant to the Scottish Parliament and the cause of devolution since the Parliament’s very foundation”.
Mr Leonard added: “He has always acted with great integrity and skill as the Parliament has navigated its way through the handling of further devolved powers.”
Green MSP Patrick Harvie hailed the outgoing chief executive’s “tremendous service” to Holyrood, saying: “Paul has played a pivotal role as the Parliament has developed and become embedded in the everyday lives of the people of Scotland.”
Queen Margaret University (QMU), Edinburgh, is delighted to announce that Sir Paul Grice, Clerk and Chief Executive of the @ScotParl, will be appointed as the University's new Principal and Vice-Chancellor. ➡️ https://t.co/EbI4iNYwMbpic.twitter.com/ynu1LXUdYm
— QueenMargaretUni (@QMUniversity) June 12, 2019
Dr Frances Dow CBE, the chair of the Court of Queen Margaret University, said they were “delighted” he would be heading the institution.
She stated: “His philosophy on education aligns with the value that QMU places upon social justice, and on intellectual capital with both a theoretical and practical focus. These elements equip our graduates and staff to make a real difference to the world around them.
“Given his prominent roles in civil society so far in his career, it is abundantly clear that Sir Paul will be a powerful voice for QMU externally and for the higher education sector as a whole.”