After 22 years, the president of the University of St. Thomas will retire next year.
The Rev. Dennis Dease, who turns 69 this month, said his retirement will take effect on June 30, 2013.
His tenure will make him the second-longest-serving president in St. Thomas' 127-year history. He succeeded the Rev. Terrence Murphy, who held the office for 25 years.
Under Dease's leadership, St. Thomas has grown from a liberal arts college in St. Paul to a nationally recognized institution with a significant footprint in downtown Minneapolis. It is the largest private college in Minnesota, with more than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students.
"I can't think of any president of any university in the country who has accomplished as much as he has in his time," said former Archbishop Harry Flynn, chair of the university's board of trustees. He credited Dease with assembling a strong board of trustees and an array of new programs and buildings, including the law school and business school in Minneapolis and the new student center and athletic center on the St. Paul campus.
He said Dease maintained the confidence of the faculty and the student body and is on track to complete a half-billion capital campaign launched just as the country plunged into recession.
"The timing for my retirement next year will be right for a number of reasons," Dease said in a statement.
"We will complete our $500 million Opening Doors capital campaign this October, and our preparation for our decennial accreditation visit by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association will conclude next year. Also, I will turn 70 next May, and I have other interests I would like to pursue."
Trustee John M. Morrison will lead the search committee for Dease's successor, who for the first time will not have to be a priest.
The university's governing board dropped that requirement last year. While the school will still give priests "strong preference," it will allow a Roman Catholic layperson to serve as president.