Roger Ferguson, the

Federal Reserve's

vice chairman, submitted his resignation Wednesday, saying he will step down after more than eight years on the central bank's board of governors.

His resignation is effective April 28. Ferguson, who has been a member of the board since November 1997, sent a letter to President Bush informing him of his decision.

"My service on the board has been rewarding and stimulating, and it is now time for me to pursue other professional opportunities," he wrote in the letter. Ferguson won't attend the March 27-28 meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, according to the Fed's Web site.

"Roger has made invaluable contributions to the Federal Reserve and to the country," Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said in a statement. "He led the Fed's first response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was a strong advocate for increased transparency of monetary policy, and ably represented the Federal Reserve in important international fora. I value his friendship and counsel greatly and wish him all the best in his new endeavors."

Ferguson, 54, was first appointed to the board of governors by President Clinton to fill an unexpired term that ended in January 2000. He was then appointed by President Bush to a full term that expires in January 2014.

Before he joined the board, Ferguson was a partner at McKinsey & Co., a management consulting firm. Before that, he was an attorney at the New York office of Davis Polk & Wardwell.

Ferguson's resignation will mark the latest change at the Fed. President Bush has nominated Randy Kroszner and Kevin Warsh to fill two seats that were already vacant on the board of governors. Those seats were previously held by Edward Gramlich, who resigned last year, and Bernanke, who had left the board to become chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

Bernanke returned to the Fed earlier this month as chairman, replacing Alan Greenspan, who retired after nearly two decades in the post.