Alumna honored for contributions to Baker
Susanne Richardson Teel, ’69, frequently makes the nearly two-hour drive from her home in St. Joseph, Mo., to her second home at Baker University in Baldwin City.
The drive to Baldwin City doesn’t seem long to Teel, a Baker University alumna, former Board of Trustee chair and current Board of Trustee member. The drive is easy because she is going to a place she loves to do what she loves by helping the University she loves.
Teel’s name rests on plaques acknowledging her generous donations to various buildings on campus, students attend classes on scholarships she has given, and administrators, staff and students know and greet her by name.
“I will do anything and everything I can to give somebody a chance in life,” Teel said. “That is my purpose.”
Members of the University took advantage of a chance to repay Teel by nominating her for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education District VI Volunteer of the Year Award, which she has won. Both University President Pat Long and Vice President for Endowment and Planned Giving Jerry Weakley wrote recommendations nominating and praising Teel’s philanthropic work with Baker.
“Quite frankly I don’t know that I’ve known anyone who is so selfless in giving of their time and their talent and their treasure,” Long said. “I talk to potential board members when they’re coming on the board; those are three things that we expect. And she does that in such an incredible way.”
Along with her work as a trustee member, Teel serves as the chair of the house corporation for the Delta Delta Delta sorority at Baker and is also actively involved with the parMentors program. She can also be spotted at Collins Center and Liston Stadium attending countless sporting events throughout the year.
“It is all about the students,” Teel said. “I didn’t want to just be a board member who came to a meeting and left. If you are going to know about Baker, you need to know the students.”
Current BOT Chair Hoot Gibson, CAS ’73, succeeded Teel this year and said she is the “perfect profile for a board chair.”
Teel called what she does at Baker her purpose. Gibson said it is a calling. Regardless of the word used, Gibson knows the University appreciates Teel’s work.
“We’re lucky,” Gibson said. “We’re lucky to have somebody of her talent choose Baker as one of her not-for-profits to give so much time to, because, you know, truly what she’s done is a calling.”
Although Teel’s volunteer work at Baker alone is enough to make her worthy of the CASE award, which included nominees from eight states, her philanthropy doesn’t end with Baker. She is also heavily involved with her church and other nonprofit organizations. However, she acknowledged that when she became a part of Baker, it took priority and Baker was where she wanted to be.
“I think that’s exactly what makes her the volunteer of the year and a true philanthropist of the year, that giving from the heart, giving from the soul,” Long said. “Just having that spirit of generosity, not just in dollars but in time.”
Teel spent two years at Baker as a student in the late-1960s before transferring to the University of Missouri. She maintained lifelong friendships made at Baker and has continued to be part of the Baker family since her time as a student. And according to Gibson, it’s apparent the University has left its mark on Teel, like it has on many former students.
“Every time you drive back and you come to Baldwin City, it’s kind of a special feeling you have in your heart as you come around the curve on (Highway) 56,” Gibson said.
Teel was unaware she had been nominated for the award and was overwhelmed upon learning that she had won. She was humbled and honored by the recognition but was most gratified to represent the students and University she cares for so much.
“I am doing what I love and I won’t change. I will continue doing what I love,” Teel said. “I am completely honored. I had no idea about it. And to hear the number of people talking about it, I’m excited about what it’s going to do for Baker, too. I think probably the highlight for me is that we get to see Baker’s name.”
Teel will continue to do what she can for Baker, one drive from St Joseph to Baldwin City at a time.