Remembering Dr. George Baker

It is with great sadness that we share the news of the recent passing of Dr. George A. Baker III. Dr. Baker, a brilliant educator and researcher in the area of community college leadership, occupied the Joseph D. Moore Endowed Chair in Community College Leadership within NC State’s College of Education from 1992 to 2001. 

Dr. Baker established the National Initiative for Leadership and Institutional Effectiveness (NILIE) in 1990 at the University of Texas-Austin, where he was a professor. Dr. Baker’s vision for NILIE included three elements:

  • a high-quality research program focused on leadership and institutional effectiveness;
  • services to institutions of higher education, especially community colleges, in the form of climate assessments, consultation, conferences and publications;
  • and opportunities for graduate students to learn and grow through research experience.

In 1992, Dr. Baker brought the program to NC State’s College of Education, where it has remained.

“Dr. Baker left a wonderful mark on our college that still stands today,” says Dr. Paola Sztajn, interim dean of NC State’s College of Education. “His desire to prepare Ed.D. practitioners who know how to use research to run their institutions effectively has resulted in stronger colleges across the country – including our own.”

Dr. Baker designed the PACE Climate Survey to help community college leaders better understand their institution’s culture and overall capacity to promote student success by hearing directly from employees about how they perceive and experience their work. In doing so, the survey promotes open and honest communication to inform priorities for change.

In 2019, NILIE, now known as PACE, continued its operation under the Belk Center for Community College Leadership and Research at NC State, where the PACE Climate Survey continues to be at the forefront of campus climate research and assessment. The Belk Center’s portfolio of offerings, including campus climate assessment, executive leadership programs, doctoral education in community college leadership, and a robust research agenda, bring the vision of Dr. Baker full circle by further enhancing the community college partner experience.

Since its development, more than 170 community colleges across the country – including 110 repeat partners – have participated in the survey. To this day, the PACE Climate Survey continues to be a critical component of the Belk Center’s efforts to support community colleges in improving student access and success.

“Dr. Baker’s contributions to the field of community college leadership are immeasurable,” says Dr. Audrey “AJ” Jaeger, W. Dallas Herring Professor and Executive Director of the Belk Center. “Our team at the Belk Center is honored to have the opportunity to continue the legacy of service that was the hallmark of Dr. Baker’s career. His impact on the field was deep and broad.”

In addition to his time at NC State and the University of Texas-Austin, Dr. Baker had an exemplary military career and served for more than 20 years in the United States Marine Corps – retiring at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Dr. Baker received his doctorate in education from Duke University, his master’s degree in counseling psychology from Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, and his undergraduate degree in business/managerial economics from Presbyterian College.

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