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Amid scandal, Univ. of St. Thomas to inaugurate new president

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St. Thomas University officially welcomes its new president in an inauguration ceremony on Thursday, just a few days after a scandal rocked the school.

Julie Sullivan will become the Catholic university's 15th president in its 128-year-history. She'll be the schools first layperson – and first female – president.

Sullivan has already been hard at work, dealing with a lawsuit filed Monday by a woman who alleges that popular priest and St. Thomas instructor Michael Keating had sexual contact with her when she was in her early teens.

"I have seen a copy of the lawsuit. ... The news is shocking, and it is sad," Sullivan wrote in an email sent earlier this week to faculty, students and their parents.

Keating took a leave of absence from the university just prior to the lawsuit filing, and he has declined to comment.

Sullivan vowed the St. Paul university "will conduct whatever inquiries we determine are appropriate." She added that the university has "zero tolerance" for child abuse and sexual misconduct, the Pioneer Press reports.

Sullivan, 56, this week has declined media requests for interviews. Her inauguration is at 2 the field house of the Anderson Athletic and Recreation Complex. The Florida native came to Minnesota from California, where she had been executive vice president and provost of the University of San Diego. Here's more info about the event.

St. Thomas, with more than 10,000 students, is the state's largest private college or university, with a $203 million annual budget. The school is a fundraising powerhouse, last year surpassing an ambitious $500 million fundraising goal.

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