The University of St. Thomas made the historical decision to appoint its first female and lay person president in the schools 128- year history.
Julie Sullivan, 55, will replace Father Dennis Dease who will be stepping down in June after serving as president for 22 years, the Pioneer Press said.
Sullivan was appointed following a unanimous vote by the school's Board of Trustees, MPR said. A wife and mother of four, she currently serves as the executive vice president and provost at the University of San Diego which is also a Catholic institution.
During her career in San Diego, Sullivan made many strides including adding tenured faculty, doubling the research grants available to faculty, and most notably the appointment of the school as a Changemaker Campus by nonprofit Ashoka, which supports global social entrepreneurship, the Pioneer Press reported.
"Her spirit, her authenticity and her mission-driven leadership will be an asset to the University of St. Thomas" Dease said of his successor.
Sullivan's main goals when stepping into her new role are to strengthen the school's image as a globally engaged institution with a liberal arts focus and to keep tuition rates in check in order to keep St. Thomas accessible to students, the Pioneer Press said.
"My aspiration for the University of St. Thomas is to be recognized regionally, nationally and internationally as the model Catholic university of our time," Sullivan said.