Eighth President of Luther College (1996-1999)
Jeffrey D. Baker, the eighth president of Luther College, was born November 23, 1941 in Sacramento, California. As a young boy, he learned the value of hard work and sacrifice from his father, a wholesale grocery salesman, and of honesty and integrity from his mother.
At the age of 18, Baker left home to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he learned about building leadership skills. In 1964, Baker married Shirley Watson in Colorado Springs, CO, and earned a B.S. in international affairs from the U.S. Air Force Academy. He then went on to become a Air Force pilot instructor from 1964-1970. Baker then left Colorado and received his M.B.A. in management and labor relations from Arizona State University in 1971.
In 1976 Baker returned to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs to become an assistant professor, and during the next four years he also became a deputy for research and for economics. He then left the Academy again and attended the Foreign Student Service in Washington D.C. from 1980-1981.
From 1981-1983, Baker served as air attaché for the American Embassy in Rangoon, Burma. During these years he was also an assistant dean for graduate programs and continuing education at Defense Intelligence College in Washington D.C.
In 1984 Baker became an associate professor of economics and business at Carrol College in Helena, MT, a position he held for three years before becoming an associate director and associate professor at Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. In 1988 Baker returned to Carrol College to become the vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college, a position he held until 1993. In that year Baker became the Commissioner of higher education of the Montana University System from 1993-1996.
Jeffrey Baker was inaugurated as the eighth president of Luther College on Saturday, November 23rd, 1996.
While at Luther, Jeffrey Baker moved the Office of the President to a more central location, altered the organization of the administration, and attempted to expand Luther's endowment in order to finance his campaign to create new buildings on campus. One of Baker's main goals was to transition Luther College into the 21st century without forgetting or losing the value of the college's history and traditions.
After serving as President of Luther College for two years, Jeffrey Baker was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1998 and resigned from his position on March 19, 1999. He moved to California, where he passed away on March 22, 1999
Baker Village, the group of Scandanavian-style townhouses located across College Drive from campus, was named in honor of Jeffrey Baker in 1999.