B. James Dawson will retire as president of Lincoln Memorial University at the end of the 2016-2017 academic year, LMU announced Monday afternoon.

Dawson has been at LMU for eight years, first as chief operating officer and chancellor of the Harrogate campus. One year later, he was named president of the university.

"Jim Dawson has poured his heart and soul into this University for eight years," Dr. Autry O.V. "Pete" DeBusk, chairman of the LMU Board of Trustees, said in a statement. "His distinguished service is one of the reasons LMU has risen above many of her peers and is recognized as an innovative leader in higher education."

Prior to coming to LMU, Dawson was president of Coker College in Hartsville, S.C. for seven years. He was also president of Tennessee Wesleyan College in Athens from 1995 to 2002.

Once he retires next spring, Dawson will continue his service to LMU as President Emeritus, the university said.