FARMINGTON – Theodora J. Kalikow anticipates that next July she’ll have plenty of time for gardening, reading books and rowing her shell on Flying Pond in Mount Vernon.

Kalikow, the longest-serving University of Maine at Farmington president since the school became a four-year college in 1945, announced Friday night at the employee recognition dinner that she will retire June 30.

Kalikow, 70, said while she looks forward to recreating, there will be a downside to leaving the job she’s held for the past 18 years.

“I’m a little old lady and everyone pays attention to me. When I’m not president no one will give a hoot,” she joked. “There will be an ego adjustment, but I’ll live through it.”

It won’t be all play for Kalikow, known around campus as Theo.

Following an eight-week break next summer, she’ll work for two years on special projects for the University of Maine System.

Fortunately, she said, two of her interests — improving access to higher education for Maine students and collaborating with business leaders and education officials to expand economic development in western Maine — are also interests of the university system.

Kalikow said she’s proud that for 15 consecutive years UMF has been recognized as one of America’s best colleges by U.S. News & World Report.

And she also said that it’s time for someone with new ideas to have a shot.

“The first-year students were barely born when I came here (in 1994),” she said. “Enough!”

Kalikow said that in the 1970s she thought she would be a college philosophy professor forever, but she did have “secret thoughts about deans and vice presidents that I could do better than them.”

At that time, Kalikow was a tenured professor and department chairwoman at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.

Then the school’s president asked her to be his assistant.

“I loved it,” Kalikow said. “The idea of making changes at an institution-wide level was a good thing.”

Kalikow, UMF’s 13th president, said she is happy to have been part of the many changes and improvements over the past two decades.

Much of the campus features advanced geothermal technology and the latest energy efficiencies “because I was open and the students made us do it.”

She said she is proud of the whole new generation of faculty and staff who were attracted to UMF because of its national academic reputation. “They are the future,” she said.

UMF has added five majors, five programs in interdisciplinary studies, two master’s degree programs and 16 faculty positions during Kalikow’s tenure.

Kalikow also cited as a source of pride the sprinkling of new buildings on campus, including the recently opened Emery Community Arts Center.

Kalikow’s talents have been recognized by outside UMF.

In 2002, she was inducted to the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame and in 2006 trustees of the University of New England awarded her the Deborah Morton Award for her exceptional leadership and public service.

A native of Swampscott, Mass., she earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Wellesley College in 1962. After working in a laboratory at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons, she earned a master’s degree in philosophy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970 and a doctorate in philosophy from Boston University in 1974.

“UMF is a unique place that empowers members of campus leadership, along with students, to help determine the things that matter to a quality public liberal arts education. I am grateful to have been able to make a difference in higher education in Maine,” she said.

And she also looks forward to rowing on Flying Pond.

“I am a part of everybody’s scenery,” she said.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Beth Staples can be contacted at 861-9252 or:

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