FARMINGTON — Forging breakthroughs in sustainability research that help save the environment and building internship programs that prepare future business leaders and teachers are among the goals Christopher Ames hopes to accomplish if he becomes the University of Maine at Farmington’s next president.

The university has narrowed its search for a new leader to three finalists, including Ames.

Ames, 55, shared his vision for the liberal arts college in Farmington during a campus visit Monday, when he met with the faculty, students and community members in a series of public forums.

His was the first visit by the finalists competing to replace outgoing President Theodora J. Kalikow, who is retiring in June after 18 years of leading the college. The other finalists are expected to visit later this week.

With a career of more than 30 years in higher education, Ames has experience as both a teacher and administrator since graduating with a doctorate in English literature from Stanford University.

Ames spent 15 years as an English professor before moving on to college administrative positions. He is now special assistant to the president at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., having served as provost and dean of the college from 2006 to 2011.

Ames described his background as being rooted in liberal arts education, spanning from his undergraduate liberal arts degree from the University of Texas, Austin, to his most recent administrative job.

If picked to lead the college in Farmington, Ames said, his commitment to the liberal arts model has given him the tools to build on what he called Kalikow’s solid foundation.

He praised her for having given UMF a reputation as an innovative state liberal arts college, which also has an identity based on preparing standout teachers and educators.

Ames said he would plan to expand the internship programs and student and faculty research programs started at the college under Kalikow. He would challenge the faculty to devise new ways to ensure each student completes some form of specially tailored career training before graduating, he said.

He also wants to focus on building student and faculty research opportunities. His background in fundraising for private colleges would help him find money to launch new programs struggling amid cuts in public college funding, Ames said.

He added that the college is surrounded by unique natural features, which positions it to forge business partnerships and lead the way in environmental sustainability research fields.

Ames lives in Maryland with his wife, Lauren, and their four cats. He called getting considered for the presidency a great opportunity, saying it would be an adventure to take on the new challenge.

A presidential search committee was formed late last year to begin working on the national search. The fourteen members of the committee consisted of three members of the University of Maine System Board of Trustees, as well as the UMF faculty, staff, students, and local community members.

After the visits, the search committee will review feedback and present its findings to the University of Maine System chancellor. One candidate will be recommended to the full Board of Trustees for approval. A new president is expected to start work this summer.

David F. Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]

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