Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's top deputy, James Steinberg, is resigning his position to take an academic post at Syracuse University.
Clinton told State Department personnel on Wednesday that Steinberg will be replaced as the agency's second-in-command by Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William Burns, who is currently the highest-ranking career diplomat in the foreign service. She said President Barack Obama would nominate Burns for the job, which requires Senate confirmation.
Clinton said in a notice to employees he had been "indispensable" in helping to formulate and execute policy "on every foreign policy challenge, big and small."
Steinberg, 57, had long been rumored to be unhappy as the department's No. 2 and will be moving to Syracuse to be the dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. The school said he will take up the post of deans this summer.
Prior to his current post, he was the dean of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and served in President Bill Clinton's administration as the State Department's director of policy planning and deputy national security adviser.
An early supporter of presidential candidate Obama, Steinberg was thought to have been on the shortlist to become national security adviser, a job that ended up going to retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones.
While Clinton said the State Department "really won't be the same without" Steinberg, she hailed Burns, a former ambassador to Russia and Jordan and assistant secretary of state for near Eastern affairs, as a worthy successor.