Ric Robertson is stepping down from his post as chief operating officer of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to become a consultant, people familiar with the situation told TheWrap.
A 32-year veteran of the organization, Robertson has been on leave since June, staying out of the day-to-day of overseeing staff and operations. He was not present for high-level Academy meetings as recently as last week.
Robertson (above, left), a 20-year occupant of the executive administrator position that placed him second in command to executive director Bruce Davis, was on the shortlist of candidates to replace Bruce when he retired in 2011. After a six-month search, the AMPAS Board of Governors passed him over and opted to go with for Film Independent chief Dawn Hudson (above, right) in the newly-created position of CEO.
Robertson was installed in another new position, COO, and told TheWrap at the time that he was committed to the position long-term.
With Hudson coming in as an outsider in the tradition-rich (and sometimes tradition-bound) Academy, Robertson was considered a vital voice of continuity and institutional memory in the executive suite.
But since then, the executive structure of the Academy has been almost completely overhauled, with the creation of several new positions and the departure of some longtime employees. Robertson’s contract was set to expire next year, as is Hudson’s.
In a letter to staff obtained by TheWrap, Hudson praised Robertson’s contributions.
“It’s always hard when such a valued colleague takes a step back — especially Ric, who is so much a part of the fabric of this organization, and who helped build the Academy to be the great institution that it is,” Hudson wrote. “Ric has been a wonderful friend and partner to me these last couple of years.”
Robertson steered the Academy’s move to online voting — results ranged from “very smooth” to ” total debacle,” depending on whom you ask — and his duties overseeing the staff are expected to be absorbed by existing staffers. (During his absence this summer, AMPAS general counsel Scott Miller has assumed some of his duties, according to Academy insiders.) Robertson announced in May that he would be taking a self-described “sabbatical” starting in June that was supposed to run through the end of last month.
In his new consulting role, Robertson will focus on Academy rules and the telecast. His email to colleagues, obtained by TheWrap, is below:
After almost 32 years with the Academy, I’ve decided to step down from my position as COO.
I’m going to continue my relationship with the Academy, however, as a consultant focusing on the show, award rules and categories. I’m excited to be on these projects in addition to serving as a resource to our new president, Cheryl Boone Isaacs, CEO Dawn Hudson, and you, the Academy staff.
I arrived at this decision with considerable deliberation and, as many of you know, after a three-month hiatus. The summer off was fantastic; it gave me time to travel, relax and try to find CBS on my television. It also gave me the opportunity to think about how I can more fully realize my goals. This is just the first step on that path.
I’m grateful to have worked with you and look forward to continuing to do so, albeit in a different capacity. Thank you for your support of the Academy and for the kindness you’ve shown me personally.