COLLEGEVILLE, Minn. (AP) -- Regents have broken with tradition and chosen at layperson to lead St. John's University.

Carleton College economics professor Michael Hemesath was named president of St. John's on Tuesday. He says the selection of a lay president represents a new era for the Benedictine institution in Collegeville.

St. John's has been run by Catholic priests and monks since 1857. The school says this is the first time in its 155 years that a layperson has been named to a full term as president.

Hemesath replaces the Rev. Robert Koopmann, who was appointed to a three-year-term in 2009. Koopmann announced last May he would not seek a second, citing the stress of the job, and will return to the faculty.

Hemesath, 53, a St. John's alumnus, assumes his new post July 1.