ALLIANCE — The University of Mount Union’s president will leave the school next year.

W. Richard Merriman Jr., who was hired as the university’s 12th president in 2015, has notified the Board of Trustees that he will conclude his service as president at the close of the 2019-2020 academic year.

In a letter to university supporters, Merriman said a “confluence of reasons” makes next year the time for a transition in leadership.

He noted that by next summer Mount Union’s capital campaign will be beyond the phase in which the president is heavily involved and will be ready to go public and there will be one year remaining on the university’s strategic plan.

“And finally, by the summer of 2020, I will be 65 and will have been a college and university president for 22 years,” wrote Merriman, who spent 17 years as president of Southwestern College in Kansas before coming to Mount Union. “That’s plenty.”

In a news release from Mount Union Tuesday, Merriman called serving as president of Mount Union a “wonderful privilege.”

According to the release, the Board of Trustees will begin its search for the university’s 13th president after identifying the characteristics needed in the next leader and forming a search committee. The committee will be led by Matthew Darrah, chair-elect of the Board of Trustees.

Since 2015

During his tenure at Mount Union, Merriman led the development of a new strategic plan, dubbed “Compass 2021: Mount Union’s Strategy to Lead, Collaborate and Innovate.” Some of the aspects of the plan that already have been introduced include the addition of new academic majors in biomedical engineering, computer engineering, electrical engineering and risk management and insurance, as well as four fully-online master of education programs.

With the help of private donors, the university also has upgraded its library and engineering and business building and opened new athletic facilities. Construction of a new wing of the engineering and business building is slated to begin in the coming year.

Mount Union, with more than 50 undergraduate majors, more than 70 undergraduate minors and graduate and online programs, also has reorganized its academic structure into three colleges under Merriman’s leadership.

Allen Green, chair of the Mount Union Board of Trustees, said Merriman has been instrumental in leading the institution’s transformation into a comprehensive university while maintaining its liberal arts foundation.

“His outstanding communication and leadership skills, coupled with his relentless work ethic, have allowed Mount Union to make great progress during his tenure,” Green said.