The president of St. Thomas University in Fredericton will resign as of Dec. 31, three years into the job, the university announced Wednesday.

Michael Higgins was appointed president and vice-chancellor in 2006.

"My decision to resign after three years as president is grounded in my conviction that as I enter the final phase of my academic career, I want to concentrate on other priorities and turn my energy to a number of scholarly projects," Higgins said in a press release.

Higgins, a nationally distinguished scholar and teacher, said that he has committed to write two books as well as a CBC-commissioned documentary series. 

Andrea Seymour, chairwoman of the board of governors, said they accepted his resignation "with sincere regret."

"We understand that this was a personal decision, and it is one we respect given his vital role as an academic, the exciting projects that he has planned and his desire to focus on scholarly work in the coming years," she said in the release.

Seymour said the human resources committee of the board will work quickly to identify an interim president.

Higgins tenure was marked by a faculty lockout followed by a strike that threw students into turmoil.

On Dec. 27, 2007, Higgins locked out professors after 10 months of negotiations failed to produce a new contract. The teachers then voted to go on strike and hit the picket lines on Jan. 9, 2008.

On Feb. 2, the university and the faculty agreed to binding arbitration and students finally returned to class.