President Nancy Uscher plans to leave the college next year, when her five-year contract ends.

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Nancy Uscher, president of Cornish College of the Arts, will leave her position when her contract ends next summer, the downtown Seattle arts college announced Thursday.

Uscher, who was serving a five-year contract, said she was announcing her departure early so the college would have time to plan an orderly transition.

A violist by training, she is the college’s first woman president since its founder, Nellie Cornish, who started the school in 1914.

During her tenure, the school erected its first new building since 1921 — a $50 million, 20-story residence hall with classroom space in the Denny Triangle neighborhood of downtown Seattle.

It also adopted a new visual-arts curriculum, launched a film/media program, created a residency for the Kronos Quartet, began offering online courses, and stepped up fundraising.