Federal Housing Administration Commissioner Carol Galante will step down later this year to take an academic post at the University of California at Berkeley.

"I have decided to leave HUD and my role as the assistant secretary housing/FHA commissioner toward the end of this year," Galante said in a note to staff Monday.

Galante will assume UC Berkeley's I. Don Terner Distinguished Professorship in Affordable Housing in January, as well as serve as the director of the Berkeley Program in Housing and Urban Policy and co-chair the Fisher Center on Real Estate Policy Advisory Board.

"This is a compelling opportunity for me to continue with work I am passionate about and also return home to California," she told staff in the note.

It appears Galante will continue to serve until independent auditors release a key report on the financial condition of the FHA single-family insurance fund, which is usually issued in early November. Some observers expect the actuarial report will show FHA has recovered from the high default rates on FHA-insured single-family loans and has reached a 2% capital ratio.

"By working hard to establish the right pricing, increase recoveries on distressed assets and better manage risk, we have turned the corner on those losses and significantly improved the financial health of the Fund," Galante said in her note.

Galante played an instrumental role bolstering the strength and stability of FHA's multifamily and health care programs coming out of the financial crisis, David Stevens, her predecessor as FHA commissioner and the current president and CEO of the Mortgage Bankers Association, noted in a statement Monday.

"Since assuming her current role as FHA commissioner, she has worked tirelessly on the critical reforms to further strengthen FHA's risk management that have helped restore the financial health of the MMI fund," he said.

Galante has served at the Department of Housing and Urban Development since May 2009 following her time as CEO of San Francisco-based affordable housing developer BRIDGE Housing Corp. She ran the FHA's multifamily insurance for several years and was later confirmed as FHA commissioner in December 2012.

"She deserves a lot credit for making the right moves and getting the program back on its feet so quickly," said Brian Chappelle, a mortgage industry consultant and former FHA and MBA official.

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