Professor Seona Reid, who has left the Glasgow School of Art after 14 years, said she hopes the GSA will remain a small and independent school but a merger or enhanced relationship with a university could not be completely ruled out.
Professor Reid said she was particularly proud of the new GSA building which is currently being completed opposite the Mackintosh Building in Glasgow's city centre, but admitted its look may not please everybody.
The striking £50 million building has been designed by the leading American architect Steven Holl, and it has been named after Professor Reid, who left her office for the last time yesterday.
"I think there will be a 'wow' factor for visitors, but it is uncompromisingly modern, and there will be people, there is bound to be, who don't like the style of architecture that this building represents so they will not like it," she said.
"I think the fact that it's opposite the Mackintosh Building, which has now become one of the most loved buildings [in Scotland], means it is there to compare and contrast, and if they don't like modernist architecture they will not like it.
"However, the integrity of the Holl building is extraordinary and the quality of the facade and the materials used, the way which Stephen Holl cuts spaces out of the facade means it is not in any way a big block - it is very nuanced and sophisticated - so I hope most people will love it, but we shall see."
On the status of the GSA, which has produced a stream of award-winning artists, designers and architects, Professor Reid believes being an independent centre of education has more positives than negatives.
Dundee's Duncan of Jordanstone School of Art is part of the University of Dundee, and Edinburgh College of Art merged with Edinburgh University in 2011.
"At the moment if you talk to the board, the staff and the students, most of them would say the benefits of being independent outweigh any potential downsides," she said.
"Now, that may not always be the case, and I don't think anybody should close their mind to the possibility of moving into a different kind of relationship with a university, either becoming part of it or something else.
"But at the moment, we are better independent and being fleet of foot... because there are so few small institutions left, part of what differentiates us from others is that we are small, we are specialist.
"And those are the positive aspects the negative aspects that outweigh things like critical mass and in some aspects, clout."
She added: "Over the years, we have managed to convince the Scottish Government and the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) that small, specialist institutions have a future."
Professor Reid said financially they can remain independent because the SFC has boosted its funding in recent years, with funding standing at £12.5m in 2012/13.
Professor Reid has four roles she will concentrate on after she leaves the GSA, and she said she is not "retiring" from work completely.
She is deputy chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund, and chair of the Scottish committee of the HLF, and said she has been "wholly impressed by the fund, its staff which have total integrity and huge knowledge, and what that organisation can achieve".
She is also a new member on the board of the Tate in London, is a Fulbright Commissioner, and is on the board of Cove Park, the artists' retreat centre near Helensburgh.
Professor Reid said she did not like to talk in terms of "legacy" but said she was proud of the multi-million pound revamp of the Mackintosh Building, the new Steven Holl building, the development of its post-graduate courses and research and the "internationalisation" of the school.
She said it would look to expand its trans-national degree courses from Singapore to other far Eastern countries.
She was appointed director of the GSA in 1999, and previously had been director of the Scottish Arts Council for nine years.