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FARMINGTON — The Education Center at the University of Maine at Farmington was given a new name Tuesday.

It is now the Theodora J. Kalikow Education Center, in honor of the former UMF president who served from 1994 to 2012.

She was applauded for her efforts to help create the center by faculty, staff, students and community members who attended a large dedication ceremony held across from the building, in the middle of South Street.

Skies cleared and the snow stopped in time for several guests, including Gov. Paul LePage and University of Maine System Chancellor James Page, to speak.

LePage began by saying it was an honor to dedicate and rename the building and to be there. But he stopped abruptly and left the podium in response to students who were holding up signs that criticized his work.

Page noted that as the longest-serving president since UMF became a four-year college in 1945, Kalikow had made a lasting impact in the lives of Maine students and their families. Education is the center of many students’ lives, he said, and he acknowledged how much they could accomplish.

The Education Center was completed in 2007 and was awarded LEED-Silver certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

 The 44,500-square-foot building uses geothermal energy for heating and cooling and recycled and sustainable materials throughout the building. During its first year, it saved 70 percent in annual energy costs, as compared to a structure of similar size built with traditional building methods, according to a UMF release.

“Kalikow was a change agent, a visionary who saw the need for a new building,” said Valerie Huebner, a member of the UMF Board of Visitors and former UMF special counsel to Kalikow while she was president.

Before the center existed, programs in education were scattered across the campus, said Katherine Yardley, UMF associate provost and dean of the College of Education, Health and Rehabilitation.

UMF, which is committed to providing an excellent education for future classroom teachers, was rated “One of America’s Best Colleges” for 15 consecutive years and one of 20 outstanding colleges selected as national models of educational effectiveness during Kalikow’s time.

Five of the last nine Maine teachers of the year were Beavers, Samantha DePoy, UMF alumnus, said while speaking for U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-Maine. A beaver is the college mascot.

Early into the 2000s, Kalikow responded to the campus need and set about bringing a vision into reality, Yardley said.

State voters approved a $4.8 million bond if UMF could raise $3.2 million for the center, Kalikow said.  The goal was reached by 2005.

State-supported buildings require that 1 percent of the building be used for art, she said. A committee had looked at dog and cat sculptures, but discovered artist Chris Fennell, who makes unique sculptures out of recycled materials, she said. 

“The weird sculpture in front is called Lawnmower Leaves and I love it,” Kalikow said.

The piece was created by welding used lawnmower blades together. It is an appropriate piece for a building that promoted the use of recycled and sustainable materials, she said.

Kalikow credited several for working together to make it better for the students and the Farmington community for working with the university on several projects. 

“If you see a turtle sitting on a fence post, he didn’t get there by himself,” she said. “Thank you all for helping me up.”

Kalikow retired from UMF in 2012, but continued working for the University of Maine System for three years. She was recently in northern California for five months on assignment at another college campus.

“I’ll probably do another assignment,” she said after the ceremony. “And I’m still involved in several boards.”

The campus intended to name the Education Center after her when she retired. But instead of retiring, she went on to lead the University of Southern Maine and it was not appropriate to do it then, UMF President Kathryn Foster said before the ceremony.

The University of Maine System board of trustees approved the name dedication last September, she said.

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