St. Thomas president Dease retiring June 2013

Stepping down next year

University of St. Thomas officials said last year that they would consider a layman to be president.

Looks like it was a prelude to this announcement today in the university’s Bulletin:

Father Dennis Dease, president of the University of St. Thomas since 1991, announced today that he will retire on June 30, 2013, upon the completion of his 22nd year in office.

Dease, who turns 69 this month, began the 14th presidency of St. Thomas on July 1, 1991, and is the second-longest-tenured president in St. Thomas’ 127-year history. He succeeded Monsignor Terrence Murphy, who held the office for 25 years.

Dease informed the St. Thomas Board of Trustees about his retirement during its plenary session this morning and told the faculty at its spring semester meeting over the noon hour.

“The timing for my retirement next year will be right for a number of reasons,” Dease said. “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.”

In addition to post-presidential St. Thomas responsibilities that Dease and the board will determine over the next year, he plans to continue his work with health-care projects in Uganda, with projects  related to Armenian culture and education, and work with the University of Havana in Cuba. He will have an office in O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center on the university’s St. Paul campus.

Trustee John M. Morrison will chair the search committee for Dease’s successor. The committee of trustees, three faculty members and one staff member will be appointed by early June, but the initial steps in the search will occur with seven open forums Monday and Thursday for faculty, staff and students to express their opinions on qualities they want in a new president. Sara Gross Methner, general counsel and chief human resources officer at St. Thomas, will staff the search committee. (See separate story below for information on forums).

The university’s bylaws allow only a Roman Catholic – priest, religious or lay person – to serve as president. All 14 presidents of St. Thomas have been priests.

Read the full story here.