Sullivan accepts presidency at Minnesota university

By Leeza Earl

USD’s Executive Vice President and Provost Julie Sullivan will be the first woman and lay president at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.

She will be the 15th president of the university, and she will leave her post at USD at the end of this semester.

“When I first heard that [I was selected], I think I really had a lot of pride in the University of St. Thomas and their leaders,” Sullivan said. “I was really proud they had the courage and boldness to say we want to be the best Catholic university we can be and we will search for the best leader we can find.”

In a winter meeting, University of St. Thomas’ presidential search committee consisting of trustees, faculty and staff members recommended Sullivan to lead the university. In a final vote on Thursday, February 14 of this year, UST declared Sullivan president.

Despite the fact that USD will be losing one of its highest-priority employees, senior Francesca Murillo showed pride that Sullivan was selected for the position.
“The fact that Provost Julie Sullivan was chosen for this position shows a great deal of respect for USD and our core values,” Murillo said. “Being open to a woman’s perspective is a great opportunity for growth in Catholic institutions like [the University of St. Thomas].”

The University of St. Thomas was founded in 1885 as an all-male catholic liberal arts institution. It later became co-ed in 1977. UST has had 14 presidents, all of which have been male and priests.
Sullivan has been at USD for 8 years.

She is currently responsible for the University’s 2011 designation as an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, all academics in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Schools of Law, Nursing, Leadership, and Peace and Justice, as well as many more divisions of USD’s administration.

In a press release, President Mary Lyons praised Sullivan’s work with the university.

“Dr. Sullivan’s contributions to the growth and development of our University are abundantly evident,” Lyons said in the press release. “As our chief academic officer, Julie established the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies and she is currently launching the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering.”

Sullivan currently holds an undergraduate, Master’s and PhD in Business and Accounting from the University of Florida.

From 1998 to 2006, Sullivan served as a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, a leading nonprofit economic research organization in the United States. Sullivan was also a professor at the University of California, San Diego at the Rady School of Management.

USD was the first private and catholic university at which Sullivan worked.

She said that she plans to take the career lessons that USD has equipped her with to the University of St. Thomas.
“University of St. Thomas is very much like the University of San Diego,” Sullivan said. “The emphasis on student learning [at] USD will always be a part of me.”

Sullivan’s last day at USD will be June 30, and she will begin at University of St. Thomas on July 1. She will replace current president Dennis Denase, who will be retiring after serving 22 years as president.

Despite her new job, Sullivan looks fondly upon her past several years at USD.

“To the incoming provost: you are walking into a very exciting job, [at a] very exciting university at a very exciting time,” Sullivan said.