PHILADELPHIA -- The president of Temple University announced Friday that she is stepping down after six years.
Ann Weaver Hart, Temple's president since 2006 and its first woman president, plans to leave June 30. She said she needs to be closer to her family in Utah to care for her mother, whose health has been rapidly deteriorating since last fall.
"While one can never predict how health issues will develop, she will need increasing support and assistance," Hart wrote in an email to university staff. "She lives in Salt Lake City, and I cannot provide her with consistent support from Philadelphia. The time I spent with her this past summer made this reality very vivid."
A national search for Hart's successor will begin immediately, with a goal of having a new president in place by fall 2012.
"I am tremendously proud to have served as Temple's president and did not come to this decision lightly," Hart said. "I have treasured my time at Temple and am proud to have been a part of this extraordinary academic community."
Temple's board voted unanimously to make Hart the ninth president, after evaluating more than 100 candidates. Her predecessor, David Adamany, stepped down as Temple's president also after six years.
Board of trustees chairman Patrick O'Connor said Hart is "responsible for tremendous accomplishments and progress at Temple University during her time as president."
Hart in 2009 unveiled Temple's "20/20" plan, a $1.2 billion framework to create a more vibrant university through new academic and athletic facilities, a new library and a 1,200-bed dormitory with retail and dining. It will also increase green space on the largely concrete campus about two miles north of downtown.
Construction is under way on several projects, paid for with state funding, philanthropy and university money.
Several new research centers debuted during Hart's presidency, including the Center for Preparedness, Research, Education and Practice; the Center for Obesity Research and Education, and the Public Health Law Research Program.
Hart, 62, holds a master's degree in history and a doctorate in educational administration from the University of Utah and held various teaching and administrative posts there before a turn as provost at Claremont Graduate University in California. From 2002 until her arrival at Temple, she was president of the University of New Hampshire.
Temple, the nation's 26th largest university, was founded in 1884 and has more than 37,000 students.