AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Sen. Kirk Watson will resign from the Senate to become the first dean of the University of Houston’s Hobby School of Public Affairs, he said in a statement Tuesday.

“I have the extraordinary opportunity to be the Founding Dean of the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs,” Watson’s statement said, in part. “I love the people of Austin and Central Texas. They’ve encouraged, supported and inspired me for decades.”

Watson, an attorney, has been a state senator since 2007, and is a former mayor of Austin. He represents District 14, which is most of Travis County and all of Bastrop County.

University of Houston president Renu Khator said Watson brings a “deep background in civic and legislative engagement to the role of dean.”

“Kirk Watson has participated in public policy from many vantage points, Khator said. “That experience gives him a broad perspective on how public policy is made and how it can be applied in an academic setting to forge practical solutions to many of the greatest challenges our state faces today.”

Watson said he informed Gov. Greg Abbott of his plans Tuesday. His resignation will take effect on April 30 and should “allow a reasonable amount of time before a special election and minimize the time that Senate District 14 will be without a senator.”

“Thank you to the people of Austin and Central Texas for all they have given me as I undertake this exciting new public service role,” Watson said.

In a statement, Texas Representative Eddie Rodriguez called Watson a mentor, adding that his personality will be missed at the next legislative session.

“This is a big moment for the University of Houston. In a time when policy initiatives are founded more on partisan ambitions than facts or needs, and the least among us suffer with the results, Kirk’s role in molding the next generation of public policy leaders gives me more hope than I can express. I wish him the greatest success, satisfaction and divine guidance as he begins yet another chapter of his amazing legacy,” Rodriguez said.