Service Award – Reunion 2014

If you attend events at Drew, you’ve probably met Joe Baker. He took full advantage of Drew’s offerings enthusiastically as a student, and he continues as an alumnus. His interest and his support of Drew put him in a class all his own.

Joe has spent his life in and near Morristown, but he chose Drew for its curriculum and its size rather than its proximity. He thoroughly enjoyed his classes, despite the fact that some were disrupted in the Vietnam War era (he says that sometimes he and the legendary Professor Robert Chapman were the only attendees in Chaucer). He majored in political science, but found his true interest in what was then Drew’s only computer science course. After graduation and further computer training, Joe became a technical analyst at Beneficial Corporation, where he stayed until 1998. At that time, changes at Beneficial and Joe’s concern with his mother’s health led to his retirement as assistant vice president.

Although he was very much involved with family matters, Joe’s early retirement allowed him fully to express his devotion to Drew. He is a member of the New Founders and of the President’s Circle. His activities  include the Alumni Development Council, the Northern New Jersey Campaign Committee, the Leadership Council, the Drew Society Special Gifts Committee, Alumni Connections and a stint on Drew’s Board of Trustees.

Joe’s entire family supported Drew. His father, the late William O. Baker, was active in the development of RISE (Research Institute for Scientists Emeriti) and became one of the RISE scientists after his retirement as chair of Bell Laboratories. Joe and his parents created the Baker Family Professorship in Sociology and the Baker Family Scholarship in 2000. Joe takes a great interest in both endowments, is often in touch with Baker Family Professor Jonathan Reader and enjoys meeting the students who benefit from the scholarship.

These major endowments are not the only evidence of Joe’s affection for Drew. He has supported numerous scholarships and fellowships in honor of Drew’s many most-loved professors. He is a Friend of Mead Hall; he faithfully and generously supports the Annual Fund and innumerable additional endeavors large and small.

Joe can be found at most of Drew’s major events—lectures, receptions, plays, concerts and gatherings, including some student events such as the Drew Summer Science Institute’s annual poster session. He invariably lends his support at Reunion. He takes great satisfaction in supporting the university, and expects the new INTO program to further develop Drew’s ability to improve the world through the liberal arts.

We are fortunate that Joe remains in Morristown, where he also serves the other nearby schools he has attended: the Far Brook School and Morristown Beard School. He enjoys hiking, sailing, swimming and tennis, and thinks of bringing out his golf clubs again.