University of Northwestern-St. Paul President Alan Cureton will step down in the coming months after leading the private Christian college for more than two decades.

Cureton, who started in January 2002 as Northwestern-St. Paul's eighth president, will serve until the Roseville college's board of trustees appoints a new president, which will likely occur next summer. The longtime leader's tenure is more than three times as long as the average for private college presidents, according to the school.

"The last twenty years serving at Northwestern has been the highlight of my professional life," Cureton said in a statement Monday.

Cureton helped expand the Christian school from about 2,300 students to more than 3,500 and increase its racial diversity by about 8%, according to the university. Northwestern-St. Paul also provided more postsecondary enrollment options, known as PSEO, for high school students than any private college in the state over the past 20 years.

He also oversaw the construction and renovation of many campus buildings, from media centers to student housing and athletic complexes.

"Dr. Cureton has been instrumental in keeping the university focused on its foundational commitment to scripture and the mission of the university and media," George Kenworthy, chair of Northwestern-St. Paul's board of trustees, said in a statement. "He has kept this organization on track, consistently, year after year, often in challenging times."