Jeffrey Baker, ELCA College President, Dies

3/25/1999 12:00:00 AM

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Jeffrey D. Baker, former president of Luther College, died of cancer March 22 at his home in Cambria, Calif., at the age of 57.  Baker was president of Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, from 1996 to 1999.  Luther is one of 28 colleges and universities of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).
     "Baker was an extraordinary president at Luther College.  He made an impact on the college that will last far beyond the few years that he served there as president," said the Rev. W. Robert Sorensen, executive director for the ELCA Division for Higher Education and Schools.  "Baker was a man who carried out his work and showed us how to live in the faith and, in the end, showed us how to die in the faith."
     Baker was elected president by Luther's board of regents on March 23, 1996, and took office July 1, 1996, as Luther's eighth president.=20 He succeeded the Rev. H. George Anderson, who served as president from 1982 until his election as presiding bishop of the ELCA in 1995.
     "Dr. Jeffrey Baker's death is a loss to the whole college network of the ELCA," said Anderson.  "He had gained the friendship and respect of his colleagues.  His skill as an administrator and his firm Christian beliefs gave promise of outstanding leadership for Luther College and for the church at large."
     From 1993 to 1996 Baker was commissioner of higher education for the Montana University System, and served as president for the Montana Higher Education Student Assistance Corporation.
     Baker was vice president for academic affairs and dean for Carroll College, Helena, Mont., from 1988 to 1993.  He also served as associate professor of business and economics there from 1983 to 1984.
     From 1987 to 1988 Baker was associate director and associate professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, University of Kentucky, Lexington.  Baker served as assistant dean for graduate programs and continuing education for Defense Intelligence College, Washington, D.C., from 1983 to 1984.
     Baker received a bachelor of science degree in international affairs from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., in 1964; earned a master's degree in business administration from Arizona State University, Tempe, in 1979; and earned a doctorate in economics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, in 1979.
     After six years in the U.S. Air Force as pilot and instructor pilot from 1964 to 1970, Baker served on staff at the Air Force Academy from 1972 to 1974 and 1976 to 1980.
     Baker was a student at the Foreign Service Institute in Washington, D.C., from 1980 to 1981, and air attache at the American Embassy in Rangoon, Burma, from 1981 to 1983.
     Baker was diagnosed with lung cancer in June 1998.  Due to declining health, Baker resigned as president of Luther College on March 19, 1999, and moved to Cambria the next day.  He is survived by his wife, Shirley, and their three adult children: Christine, Craig and Christopher.
     Richard C. Hemp, a member of Luther's board of regents, is serving as the college's interim president.  The board is conducting a search with the goal of having a new president in office by the end of summer.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or NEWS@ELCA.ORG


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