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Dr Adams (60) said it had been a ''privilege'' being dean, but he was excited about taking on the role of associate dean of student affairs - starting on June 1.
The end of April would mark 10 years in the job and Dr Adams felt the time was right to move on.
''That's the kind of time period people are usually in senior positions in the university, so I have been talking with people about alternatives and this opportunity arose,'' he said.
It had been a ''very full 10 years'' and he was proud to have been involved in some developments at the school.
However, he was quick to point out he was only one member of a very capable team at the school.
''You don't do these things at all on your own, when you are in a job like this. Part of this has been working with a very impressive team of people here.''
His new role looking after the 800 students on the Dunedin campus would also be busy and he was looking forward to having ''more direct contact with students''.
The role involved looking after students who ran into difficulty and carrying out academic reviews.
Otago University faculty of medicine dean Prof Peter Crampton said Dr Adams had made a ''tremendous'' contribution to the school.
''He has provided strong and steady leadership throughout a very eventful 10-year period,'' Prof Crampton said.