The College of St. Scholastica's 12th president will step down within the year.

President Colette Geary, who has served as president of the school since July 2016, will leave by December 2019, Geary and Board of Trustees Chair Chris Dolan wrote in letters emailed to staff, faculty and students Thursday morning.

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"In recent discussions with Board Chair Chris Dolan, I have shared with him the unanticipated challenges that the relocation to beautiful Duluth has posed for my family," Geary wrote. "In looking to the future, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that it will be best for me and my family that my commitment to the College presidency concludes within one year from now, or by December of 2019."

St. Scholastica, a private Catholic college based in Duluth, has more than 4,000 students with 1,667 full-time undergraduate students studying on its Duluth campus. The college has satellite campuses in Austin, Brainerd, Inver Grove Heights, Rochester, St. Cloud and St. Paul as well as an online program.

Geary, who previously worked as the senior vice president for strategic initiatives at the College of New Rochelle in New Rochelle, N.Y., is the first laywoman to serve as St. Scholastica president of the college and the first female since 1975.

Geary was selected as president in 2016 to succeed former president Larry Goodwin, who retired that year after 18 years in the role.

Dolan said he respected Geary's decision.

"During several conversations with Dr. Geary, it has become clear that, while she loves our wonderful College community, she feels the need to devote more time to her children and husband," Dolan wrote. "I think we can all appreciate that family takes precedence. Family sits at the heart of what is near and dear to all of us."

In the email, Dolan said the Board of Trustees will select a search consultant and create a search committee to hire the college's 13th president.