From the college’s start in 1901, the University of Portland has had a priest or brother of the Congregation of Holy Cross at the helm. But the North Portland school has expanded its current search to all qualified candidates for university president.

Michael Lewellen, spokesman for U.P., said possible school leaders from within the Congregation of Holy Cross still will receive thorough consideration.

“It’s still early in the overall process, but we are conducting a national search,” said Lewellen.

The hope is to have the 21st president in the history of U.P. on the job by July 2022.

Gonzaga University and Seattle University now have the first lay presidents in their histories. It’s a national trend. Loyola of Chicago named a laywoman in 2016. The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities reports that only about 40% of member schools are led by men and women religious.

A 2016 report in U.S. Catholic said the decline in consecrated college leaders reflects the drop in number of religious overall.