Growing up, Baker University was in Jay Hodges’ blood. The son of Dr. Donald Hatcher, who has taught philosophy on Baker’s Baldwin City campus for 36 years, Hodges participated in summer camps and club soccer teams at Baker before enrolling as a student. The two-time Baker graduate always has been, and always will be, a Baker Wildcat.
Hodges said that during his undergraduate years at BU, he grew from an overopinionated, undereducated boy to a critically thinking, thoughtful man.
“I’m a child of Baker,” said Hodges, who earned a Bachelor of Science in Sociology in 2000. “It took the entire ‘Baker Village’ to raise this child, and my undergraduate experience could not have been better because of the amazing people that make up the Baker Village.”
So when he decided to continue his education, Baker University School of Professional and Graduate Studies was at the top of his list. It was the reputation and flexibility of the Baker Master of Business Administration degree that sealed the deal.
“I remember thinking that the number of MBA programs available in the Kansas City metro area was really large,” Hodges said. “So if I was going to be successful, I didn’t need just an MBA, I needed a Master of Business Administration degree that would stick out in the sea of MBAs. Baker has a great reputation, so that solved that problem.”
As a professional with a full-time career in politics, Hodges found that the university’s flexibility fit well into his active life. After graduating in 2006 with his MBA, he was armed with the tools he needed to advance in his field. In 2010, he served as the western region field director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Then he returned to his roots to help start a campaign for, as he put it, a “no-name attorney” who wanted to be mayor of Kansas City. With the help of Hodges and the team, Sly James was elected in 2011. The experience that followed was, in Hodges’ words, “the greatest professional experience my life.”
He served as senior adviser for economic policy and public safety for Mayor James, where he worked on changing the economic development incentives policy for Kansas City, Missouri, improving government efficiency, and using technology to make the city safer. In 2012, he served as the chair for the city’s activities in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Kauffman Stadium, and oversaw city’s involvement in the 2014 World Series.
“The honor and privilege of working with Mayor James is something that I will always cherish,” Hodges said.
Hodges now serves as the director of MoKan Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust, which brings the Laborers’ International Union of North America and its contractors together to work as a team and further the goals of both groups. Hodges believes that Baker’s dedication to teaching leadership qualities and the ideal of group success over personal success sets him apart from his peers with similar degrees.
“My success as a director is a direct result of my Baker MBA degree,” Hodges said. “I feel that in the start of a career, self-success is what helps someone climb the corporate ladder. However, when that person becomes a director or manager and has people reporting to and working for them, it is team success that creates upward mobility. Baker’s MBA program works tirelessly to teach that idea and puts Baker graduates ahead of their peers.”