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    First female president of Wentworth Institute stepping down

    Zorica Pantic, an engineer by training, has led the Fenway university’s expansion and is credited with helping expand the commuter school.
    Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff/File 2014
    Zorica Pantic, an engineer by training, has led the Fenway university’s expansion and is credited with helping expand the commuter school.

    Wentworth Institute of Technology’s first female president, Zorica Pantic, announced Tuesday that she will retire in 2019 after 14 years on the job.

    Pantic, an engineer by training, has led the Fenway university’s expansion and is credited with helping expand the former commuter school by increasing the number of undergraduate programs and offering graduate degrees.

    Pantic has “overseen a long period of financial stability, which has enabled our reinvestment in key strategic initiatives and strengthened the school’s academic reputation as a leader in engineering, design, management, and sciences education,” said P. Michael Masterson, chairman of Wentworth’s board of trustees.

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    Pantic’s tenure as Wentworth’s president, which began in 2005, has lasted twice as long as the average top university administrator.

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    “It’s the right time to move on,” she said of her leadership of the 4,000-student campus. “I achieved what I was hired to do.”

    Under her leadership, Wentworth invested more than $300 million in facility renovations and expansions, including dormitories and a new $55 million engineering, innovation, and science building, set to open next year. Wentworth has added nine new undergraduate programs, mostly in engineering, and graduate degrees in subjects such as architecture, civil engineering, construction management, and applied computer science.

    The school’s focus remains getting students into good-paying jobs, said Pantic, 66.

    But demographic shifts, including a decline in the number of college-aged students, will require universities such as Wentworth to focus more on graduate programs and adult learners, she said.

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    “The economy is changing quickly,” Pantic said. “The largest growth is going to be adult learners and they’re going to continue to need additional education, whether it’s a graduate degree or continuing-education programs.”

    Wentworth has also introduced more life sciences courses and anticipates that the university will continue to expand those, capitalizing on the industry in the Boston area.

    Pantic, who was born in Serbia, was a founding dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Texas San Antonio before joining Wentworth Institute.

    She will remain at Wentworth until May 31, 2019.

    Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com.