Sir Anthony Seldon, a leading independent school head teacher, political biographer and education thinker, is to become vice-chancellor of the University of Buckingham.
He will become head of the private university in the autumn, after leaving Wellington College.
Sir Anthony has promoted the idea of pupils' sense of wellbeing being as important as exam results.
He says he wants Buckingham to be a "pioneering academic institution".
Sir Anthony has been one of the most high-profile head teachers, advocating ideas that ranged from the use of meditation to the importance of learning Mandarin as a language of the modern global economy.
He has argued for schools to help pupils guard against stress and pressure, calling for lessons in "mindfulness" and "stillness".
And he argued for stronger links between private and state sectors, setting up an academy school, Wellington Academy, sponsored by Wellington College, in Berkshire.
He has been the biographer of successive prime ministers, John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and is preparing a biography of David Cameron.
Sir Anthony, who will succeed Terence Kealey as vice-chancellor, will take over one of the UK's few private universities with degree awarding powers.
Earlier this year, Buckingham opened the UK's first private medical school, with students paying annual tuition fees of £36,000.
Lady Keswick, the university's chancellor, said Sir Anthony was "a distinguished academic in his own right, and pioneer in the fields of contemporary history, political science and positive psychology".