MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The University of St. Thomas made it official Thursday, naming Julie Sullivan the new president of the St. Paul institution.

The school is making some history in the process also. Sullivan will be the university’s first female and lay president in 128 years. She will take over for Father Dennis Dease, who is retiring June 30 after 22 years as the president of St. Thomas.

Sullivan most recently has been the executive vice president and provost at the University of San Diego. She was unanimously selected by the 13-member board of trustees at St. Thomas.

“I am thrilled and honored to be chosen,” said Sullivan, a Florida native. “St. Thomas is an outstanding university which enjoys a wonderful history and legacy that is firmly rooted in its commitment to Catholic values and the liberal arts while looking forward with an entrepreneurial spirit. It is poised to do even more – to expand its influence and its visibility.”

It’s a definite change for St. Thomas, which has been run by Roman Catholic priests since it started in 1885. The school changed its by-laws two years ago to allow the possibility for a lay person to serve as president.

Sullivan, 55, and her husband, Robert, have four children. They also have two children from Ethiopia.


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