University of St. Thomas president announces retirement plans

Rev. Dennis Dease
Rev. Dennis Dease, president of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, is retiring in 2013.
MPR File Photo/Art Hughes

The president of the University of St. Thomas announced plans to retire on Thursday.

Father Dennis Dease plans to retire at the end of June 2013.

Dease said during his tenure, the university worked to increase the depth and breadth of its academic offerings, and the physical plant grew significantly with 20 building projects.

By his retirement, Dease will be 70 years old, and will have finished a major capitol campaign and re-accreditation process. He says the chief guidepost was always the Catholic mission of the school.

"Essentially it says that we are a Catholic institution that educates students to think critically, act wisely and work skillfully to advance the common good," Dease said. "And as long as we've kept that in mind, the change has pretty much kept us on track."

Dease has led St. Thomas for 21 years. He is the second-longest serving president of the university and the 14th priest to lead the school's 127-year history, which last year changed its by-laws to open leadership to Catholic lay-people as well.

"There are moments when I feel like Rip Van Winkle. The years have just seemed to have passed in a blink," Dease said. "I can open my eyes and look around and things are so different from where they were two decades ago in many ways."

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