The president of Texas A&M University-Commerce, Ray Keck, announced Thursday that he will step down from his position effective Aug. 31. 

"It is time to redirect passion and energy, to return to teaching and to continue to assist, in every helpful way, a new leader for A&M Commerce," Keck said in a statement. He will take a year of leave and then return to the campus as a faculty member, according to a news release.

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents will name a search committee in February to find a successor, the release said. 

Keck assumed the presidency at Commerce in 2016 following the death of his predecessor, Dan Jones. Keck previously served as the president of Texas A&M International University in Laredo, a position he'd held since 2001. 

The Texas Tribune thanks its sponsors. Become one.

“Both institutions are better off today because of his efforts,” said A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. “We will always be grateful to President Keck and Patricia [Keck's wife] for their unwavering dedication to our students, faculty, and staff."

At Commerce, Keck pushed for a redesign of the freshman experience on campus and told the Tribune in October he was working with the city to revive its downtown in hopes of making it more attractive to students and faculty. 

"To have served as a president in The Texas A&M University System for almost 17 years and in two universities has been for me, and for Patricia beside me, the high point of our professional lives," Keck said in a statement. "We are grateful to Chancellor Sharp for the opportunity to be reborn amid the extraordinary talent and devotion which drives A&M-Commerce."

Disclosure: The Texas A&M University System and Texas A&M International University have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here. 

Read related Tribune coverage: