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Mount Mary University has picked Christine Pharr to be the school's new president.

The Mount Mary Board of Trustees said that Pharr will step into office in July 2017, replacing Eileen Schwalbach, who is stepping down after serving in the position since 2008. Pharr is an education administrator with more than 20 years of experience and will be the 12th president in Mount Mary history, according to a Dec. 30 release from the university.

"Dr. Pharr is an educator with a strong connection to the mission of Mount Mary University and the charism of the School Sisters of Notre Dame," Marie O'Brien, chair of the Mount Mary Board of Trustees said. "Her leadership experience in both academic affairs and alumnae and donor relations, coupled with her ability to articulate a bold yet achievable future, provide Mount Mary with the unique skill set necessary to lead the institution into our next phase of excellence."

Pharr comes to Mount Mary from the College of St. Mary, a Catholic women's institution in Omaha, Nebraska where she served as vice president for alumnae and donor relations. Prior to that, Pharr served as vice president for academic affairs at the college where she developed new undergraduate and graduate programs in business, science, nursing, physician assistant and education.

In addition, she previously served as academic dean and professor of chemistry at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. During her time as dean, she provided oversight of academic programs in nursing, social sciences, humanities, business, natural sciences, mathematics and education.

"I’m truly honored that Mount Mary University and the School Sisters of Notre Dame have put their trust in my ability to lead Mount Mary into the future," Pharr said. "I have a true passion for education and particularly believe that educating women is a great calling that Mount Mary University does very well."

A South Dakota native, Pharr holds a bachelor's degree in biology and chemistry from Mount Marty College in Yankton, South Dakota, a master's degree in chemistry from the University of South Dakota and a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of Idaho.

The university said it will conduct a formal introduction of Pharr to the Mount Mary community in January, the details of which are expected to be announced soon.

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