President Tim Wolfe announced his resignation after weeks of protests over racial inequality at the University of Missouri. The protest was joined by black football players, who refused to play until Wolfe was gone.
The resignation was effective immediately, Wolfe said on Monday, acknowledging that the complaints students had expressed were "clear" and "real."
"I take full responsibility for this frustration and I take full responsibility for the inaction that has occurred," the University of Missouri president said in a televised news conference.
Racial tensions have been mounting for months, with black students, including the student body president, reporting racial slurs and other slights on campus.
A swastika drawn in feces was also discovered in a dormitory bathroom.
Black protesters blocked Wolfe's car during the homecoming parade last month, in an attempt to get him to agree to a sit-down. However, the university head did not leave his car, and the students were removed by the police.
A black student started a hunger strike on November 2, vowing not to eat until Wolfe was gone.
The student organization Concerned Student 1950, which is named after the year the university accepted its first black student, has also been conducting a sit-in on a campus plaza since last Monday.
The university football team, known as the Tigers, suspended practice over the weekend, with at least 30 black football players threatening to cancel their next game on Sunday.
Also on Sunday, two trucks flying Confederate flags - a white supremacist symbol - drove past the plaza, in an act many describe as intimidation.
Ferguson killing driving the divide
While announcing his decision to step down on Monday, Wolfe pleaded students, faculty and staff to "use this resignation to heal, not to hate."
"This is not the way change comes about," he said, alluding to recent protests. "We stopped listening to each other."
Demands of Concerned Student 1950 include that the school adopts a mandatory racial-awareness program and hires more black faculty and stuff. They also called on Wolfe to "acknowledge his white male privilege."
The school's undergraduate population is 79 percent white and 8 percent black. Whites make up 83 percent of people living in the state of Missouri.
Racial tensions in Missouri spiked last year, when a white policeman shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson.
dj/kms (Reuters, AP)