The head of MI6 is to be the new Master of Cambridge University's Pembroke College.
Sir Richard Dearlove, who currently heads the intelligence agency, will join the college after his five-year term is completed in August of next year.
When he becomes Master it is likely to be the first time his photograph is made public.
Members of the secret intelligence service are not allowed to be photographed or give interviews.
He will be taking over from the current Master, Sir Roger Tomkys, who has been in the position since 1992 and is retiring at the end of July 2004.
Sir Richard joined the special intelligence service in 1966 after graduating from Queen's College in Cambridge - a favourite recruiting ground for the intelligence agencies.
His postings have included Nairobi, Prague, Paris, Geneva and Washington.
In 1993 he became director of personnel and administration and a year later he became director of operations.
He took over as head of the special intelligence service from Sir David Spedding in September 1999.
Sir Richard, who is married with three grown-up children, was knighted in June 2001.
The Master of Pembroke is head of the house and has general authority over the fellows, scholars and other members of the college.
He presides over meetings of the governing body and makes formal decisions on a wide range of issues.
Pembroke was founded in 1347 by the Countess of Pembroke, Marie de St Pol, and is the third oldest college in Cambridge.