In a move that shocked New Haven theatergoers, Doug Hughes, the artistic director of The Long Wharf Theater, resigned from his position this summer following five years of service.

This departure leaves two of Connecticut’s biggest regional theaters headless. The Yale Repertory Theater and Yale School of Drama have been searching for over a year for a replacement for outgoing dean and director Stan Wojewodski. Wojewodski served as dean of the school and artistic director of the Tony Award-winning theater for 10 years, and is continuing to serve throughout this year because the school has been unsuccessful in finding a timely replacement.

Hughes cited personal reasons for leaving his position at Long Wharf, pointing to disagreements with managers, but otherwise, his history with the theater was nothing but positive. He pulled Long Wharf out of debt, added a supplementary season on a second stage at the theater and landed hugely successful premieres of plays like the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Wit.”

Long Wharf spokeswoman Jen Manzo said, despite rumors, it is unlikely that Hughes would take the other vacant New Haven position — the high-profile Yale job.

“Not many people know Doug’s plans, but it looks like the next few years are booked for him,” Manzo said. “Any connection between the two was only rumor suggested by journalists.”

Yale formed a search committee two years ago to find a replacement for Wojewodski, and the same now has been formed at Long Wharf. The Long Wharf committee is made up of the theater’s trustees, chaired by Vice President Claire Tow.

“The formation of this committee is an important step for the Long Wharf,” Tow said. “Long Wharf Theater has produced 36 seasons of unforgettable, powerful theater. Finding a candidate with the blend of vision and talent to lead us successfully into future seasons will require and extraordinary committee.”

Yale’s search committee was made up of faculty members and administrators, and created a short list of potential replacements for Wojewodski that Yale University President Richard Levin examined. The University contacted several candidates last year, but many turned down the position, including former Actor’s Theater of Louisville director Jon Jory and American Conservatory Theater director Carey Perloff. Wojewodski has offered to stay at Yale for the whole year, but officials said last year that they were optimistic about finding a new leader before the 2001-2002 season ends.

In the meantime, New Haven theater will struggle without two of its champions, and the community can only wait to see in what new direction the incoming leaders will set forth.