The university shows its appreciation during family weekend.
The university shows its appreciation during family weekend.

Baker C’69 helps fund the transformation of The Commons.

October 2017 – Longtime Drew University benefactor Joseph B. Baker C’69 helped underwrite the renovation of the school’s largest dining hall, The Commons, into a first-class space.

Baker demurred, however, in having his name on the building, joking that a more apt tribute was found in the comfy space at the hall’s entrance. As he put it, “In my senior years, I like to take a nap. So, it’s good to have a lounge named for me!”

The Joseph B. Baker Lounge was unveiled during family weekend. Baker’s gift was “transformative,” said Drew President MaryAnn Baenninger, as The Commons now provides not only a “glorious space for students to interact” but also an ideal setting for admissions events.

Baker has long supported Drew, creating the Baker Family Scholarship and Baker Family professorship with his family and more recently, the William O. and Frances B. Baker RISE Fellowship in honor of his parents. Joe shows abundant affection for his alma mater and frequently visits its campus, following his retirement from Beneficial Corp., where he was a technical analyst and assistant vice president. In addition, he has served on Drew’s Board of Trustees and various school committees.

“It’s really a special person who becomes a member of the community,” said Baenninger. “Joe gives in every way possible.”

At the event, Baker was given an “lifetime” Drew ID, allowing him to dine at The Commons whenever he likes. He also sat with Huma Sheikh, recipient of a Baker Family Scholarship, created by Joe and his parents.

The scholarship, given to juniors and seniors, enabled Sheikh to finish her economics degree; she’s expected to graduate in December.

Baker likes to get to know scholarship recipients and is pleased he can afford others the Drew education that served him so well.

“One of the great things about a liberal arts education is that you have a great grounding,” said Baker, who spent a career on the ground floor in information technology. “Drew was a good fit.” Here’s a closer look at the lounge.