From the Arbor | News for October from Jerry Weakley
Greetings once again from the Baldwin City campus of Baker University!
On September 22 and 23, the University welcomed four veteran educators from the Institute for Professional Development (IPD). IPD is a partner with Baker in several programs offered outside the Baldwin City campus. It is headquartered in Phoenix, Ariz. The purpose of the visit was to provide mock interviews, similar in nature to the actual interviews that the University will participate in with the visitation team of the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) in November. The mock interviews were held to better prepare Baker for the actual HLC visit. The HLC visit will be the culmination of the preparation and self-study period the University has been going through to obtain a full 10 years of accreditation for all of its degree programs.
The IPD team used the written self-study document “Building for Sustainability” as the backdrop for the sessions it held throughout the University. This document is composed of more than 200 pages plus appendices along with additional resources and was prepared specifically for the HLC visit. Members of the administration, staff and faculty and members of the Board of Trustees participated in several question-and-answer sessions held over the two-day period.
During the exit interview conducted before the group’s departure, the University received an extremely encouraging report. It was the interview participant’s opinion that Baker had prepared one of the most comprehensive, introspective and, in fact, BEST self-study documents that the members had reviewed. They collectively left with an extremely high opinion of the entire University, its faculty, programs, student body and members of the Board of Trustees.
One of the opinions offered by the visitation committee was that Baker needs to do an even better job of celebrating, advertising and even bragging about all the various successes the University has had over the recent past.
Bragging on Baker
Just recently, during an all-campus meeting of the University’s Administrative Cabinet, members participated in a “B.O.B.” session (Bragging on Baker). You may be interested to read some of the items that cabinet members mentioned in the session.
- The most recent two-year look back at Stafford Loan defaults showed that Baker, at 3.4 percent, is far below the national average in students defaulting on their loans.
- Baker’s MBA programs in Kansas City and Wichita remain #1.
- The University has received two consecutive positive audits.
- Currently, 92 percent of last May’s School of Nursing graduates are employed. This figure is expected to increase soon.
- Baker continues to move toward growth through technology; 33 percent of its SPGS and SOE graduate students are enrolled as online students.
- Baker has three outstanding Halls of Fame honoring faculty, former coaches and athletes and outstanding educators who have received national or statewide recognition. This is an effective way of honoring the past, while providing inspiration for the future.
- Financial support from alumni and donors continues to grow even in uncertain economic conditions.
- National Geographic plans to feature pictures of an early King James Bible from Baker’s Quayle Bible Collection in the December issue (perhaps on the front cover)!
- Baker had the second leading number of Academic All-American’s last year within its collective athletic teams.
- The University still maintains and uses its original building: Old Castle.
Additions to this short list of accomplishments continued for a good 10 to 15 minutes of the meeting. I think everyone who attended left the meeting “sky-high” and so very proud of the University. Do we have challenges? Certainly. But, the overriding feeling of this group of campus leaders was that the University has outstanding people at every level of its operations and with continuing resource development, increasing numbers of students recruited and retained and with continuing development of new programs, the future of Baker can only be bright. Now, with these good thoughts in mind, we can really look forward to the visit by the Higher Learning Commission and their official findings.
Inside this issue of the Arbor you will find expanded coverage of several other successes about which we could easily brag. I hope you will uncover something in it that will inform, entertain or further engage you with our outstanding University.
Please feel free to respond to me with you own item or list of items that you think we should be bragging about.
Jerry Weakley, 1970/MBA 1992