Tom Calder, only the second athletic director at Johns Hopkins University since 1973, announced Thursday that he will step down and will begin working in the school's office of development and alumni relations as the director of alumni programs effective July 1.
Calder had been athletic director since July 1, 1995, after previously serving as an associate director from Aug. 1, 1988 through the 1994-95 academic year. Calder said he was approached by Fritz W. Schroeder, the institution's vice president for development and alumni relations, during a football game last fall about his future, and the two discussed a new venture involving alumni relations and fundraising.
"We talked quite a bit about this, and it's just a very, very good match for me," said Calder, who turns 63 next month. "I've been here 28 years, 21 as the AD, and I've come to really appreciate the fact that I've been at Johns Hopkins and I love this place and now I can do something that will really make a difference. It's a good thing."
Dave Pietramala, who was hired by Calder as the men's lacrosse coach prior to the 2001 season, called news of Calder's departure "bittersweet."
"A lot has gone on since our time together," Pietramala said, referring to the program's ability to win NCAA championships in 2005 and 2007 after an 18-year drought. "So you're obviously disappointed to see a gentleman that you had a lot of success with and that you have a great relationship with go. … The sweet part is Tom is as decent a man there is, and kudos to Johns Hopkins to seeing his value and creating a position to keep him here and to allow him to kind of sail off into the sunset the right way and allow him to do the things he likes to do and is good at."
Calder said he is indebted to his predecessor, former lacrosse coach and athletic director Bob Scott, for grooming and hiring him. Calder also said making the move was not a difficult decision for him.
"For me, one of my strengths is being with large groups and running events and that kind of thing, and it's just a perfect thing for me, especially with our alums," Calder said. "Having been around here for 28 years, there are a lot of ex-athletes that are alums out there, but there are also other alums. It's just a natural move for me."
During Calder's tenure, teams at Johns Hopkins have won five national championships and 127 conference titles, and 23 student-athletes have earned prestigious NCAA Postgraduate Scholarships and 107 have been selected for CoSIDA Academic All-America honors. The Blue Jays' 91 Academic All-Americans since 2000 ranks as the eighth-highest total among schools in all divisions, while the 52 accumulated since 2010 ranks fourth.
Johns Hopkins has placed in the top 40 in the Learfield Sports Directors' Cup standings in each of the past 19 years under Calder's guidance with a program-best second place showing in 2014-15. The runner-up finish marked the fifth straight top-10 finish.
Calder, who served two terms as president of the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association, was honored in June 2014 as one of four NCAA Division III winners of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year.
"Tom and his staff have built one of the most respected, and successful, NCAA Division III programs in the nation, all the while remaining true to the long Johns Hopkins tradition of achievement at the highest levels of competition in men's and women's lacrosse," university president Ronald J. Daniels said in the same written statement. "Under Tom, our Blue Jays have excelled as student-athletes and he has instilled a strong culture of commitment and caring for our Baltimore community and our university. I am deeply grateful to Tom, and most pleased that he plans to remain at Johns Hopkins doing important work on the university's behalf."
Football coach Jim Margraff recalled a time when he and Calder lived on the same block in a neighborhood in Timonium and became friends outside the office.
"Tom and I were very able to separate friendship from work," said Margraff, who added that his son James' first word was Jake, the name of Calder's son. "So if something was stressful from work, I'd still go home and walk over to his house or he'd walk over to mine and we'd hang out together. We've always had a great relationship personally and professionally."
Under Calder's direction, the campus has been a whirlwind of activity for new facilities for teams. The $10 million Cordish Lacrosse Center — completed in August 2012 — includes locker rooms, coaches' offices, team meeting rooms, hospitality space, an athletic training room and a study room.
Construction of Babb Field at Stromberg Stadium for the baseball program and a new tennis facility were finished in July 2014 and March 2015, respectively.
Other recent enhancements include the opening of the Wall-O'Mahoney Student Athlete Lounge in 2012, the installation of a $1 million video board at Homewood Field in 2011, and the construction of a track and field complex in 2009.
"Tom's accomplishments as athletic director are both remarkable and extensive," stated Kevin Shollenberger, vice provost for student affairs with oversight of athletics and recreation at Johns Hopkins. "His leadership was marked by his focus on students, his tireless support of our teams and his unwavering dedication to our university — attributes that will serve him well in his new role in alumni relations."
Calder acknowledged that it will feel surreal walking to a different building this summer. He said he plans to move some pictures and plaques from his current office to his new one to remind him of his time as athletic director.
"I was looking at them the other day and just went, 'Wow,'" Calder said. "It's been a great run and some great things have happened over the last 28 years. But I'm also just excited about really helping with the campaign and other things going on at Hopkins. It's a good thing."