Former BG dean calls out to retirees

A former University dean addressed the need for higher education throughout the country yesterday in front of the Retirees Association at the Union.

Kendall Baker, former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at BGSU, is now the 10th president of Ohio Northern University since 1999.

“I just want to say I appreciate all of you in this room who welcomed in my wife and as well as tolerating such a young man coming from another university arriving to take on such a responsibility of being dean of a college,” Baker said.

Roger Anderson, president of the Retirees Association, said he was equally appreciative of Baker’s visit.

“I was very excited to have the pleasure to introduce Dr. Baker because he played a big part in the success of not only the College of Arts and Sciences but to our University as a whole,” he said.

As Baker strolled down memory lane, he spoke about how this event allowed him to look through some of his old books back from 1987 to 1992.

“This book I am holding contains all my presentations and talks to various groups as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences,” Baker said. “But most importantly this book contains my state of the college talks for five years and the topics or issues that we had that needed to be addressed.”

The teaching curriculum, responsibility, relationship with legislature, faculty development and higher education in a deficit budget are all concerning issues that the University faces now as it did back in 1987, Baker said.

“These issues need to be answered by all people involved in the area of higher education and then we need to move on,” Baker said.

Baker, who is currently the president of Ohio Northern University, is also addressing these issues at his institution.

“We have a planning council to discuss and address these issues,” Baker said. “In addition to our planning council we are focusing our entire administration around the future plans that the planning council has in store to address and tackle these issues.”

However, Baker said that when it all comes down to addressing the issues, at the end, the question is what the University can do for the students.

Baker incorporates a consumer’s book in his university as he did during his career as president of the University of North Dakota.

The consumer’s book acts as an assessment guide of the university displaying the facts, percentages and statistics on the number of graduates from each department, how many students get jobs in their field of study, how many students graduate from a graduate programs and so on.

“This book is necessary because students and their families want answers to their questions,” Baker said. “They want to know if they invest their finances into an institution that they are provided with the opportunity of employment after school.”

In addition, Baker spoke about the need for everyone involved in higher education to get a copy of the Spellings Commission Report.

The Spellings Commission Report is a critical report comprising of articles aiming to discuss the availability of our education system for all Americans and assessing if institutions are preparing students to compete in the new global economy.

“As displeasing as this report is because it talks about the downfalls and the inefficiencies that exists in our institutions we must, as educators, read this material,” Baker said.

Baker challenges the retirees by questioning if everyone reads these articles who is really going to pay attention to the concerns and actually do something about it.

The report stresses the readers to focus on results.

Baker refers to the word ‘results’ as a bad word for some supporters for higher education. “As supporters of higher education, we hate the word ‘results’,” Baker said. “We have to display assurance that our institutions are capable of offering a solid foundation to students to be able to go out and get a job.”

“For the most part I agree with Dr. Baker, because as supporters of higher education, we must pay attention and tend to the concerns affecting our education system so that we can provide for our students and their families a stable foundation of education,” said Virginia Unnugster, a retiree of BGSU’s College of Music and Arts.

Baker said the approach and convergence of higher education is now and educators can’t ignore it but should, as a whole, come together to ensure great education for our economy.

“The largest university in our country now is the University of Phoenix,” Baker said. “This university doesn’t provide a campus, but over 75,000 attend this institution. This type of university is one of the new forms of the convergence of higher education that the students are attended to.”