After almost 30 years of working with the university, John Baker seems to be the heir apparent to the deanship of the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine.
The decision is pending board approval at the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday. According to the board agenda, the promotion would include a salary raise to $250,000. Baker was asked to take the position by Provost June Youatt after the previous dean, Christopher Brown, stepped down.
“There will be a lot of challenges — it’s a complex job,” he said. “I’m involved in training the veterinarians, interacting with undergraduate and graduate students and running two service units.”
His other responsibilities will include looking over the college administration, working with budgets and handling external relations with alumni, pet owners and livestock owners.
When Baker joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 1984, his responsibilities were limited to the animal clinics, teaching and research.
From there he became a full professor and later, the associate dean for research and graduate studies within the college.
After acting as the associate dean for about eight years, Baker moved on to work as the acting director for MSU AgBioResearch. The program consists of the various works and research of more than 300 scientists and has 13 centers scattered throughout Michigan.
He returned as the associate dean of the MSU College of Veterinary Medicine before later returning to AgBioResearch, which is where he was employed when Youatt approached him about the dean position.
Doug Buhler, the director of AgBioResearch, worked closely with Baker during his time with the program. He said he feels confident that Baker is a good choice for the dean position.
“He’s been through a lot of challenges, like some very serious budget cuts,” Buhler said. “And he’s been part of a lot of positive changes. (Baker) is a big part of what the organization is today.”
Thomas Coon worked closely with AgBioResearch as the director of MSU Extension — MSU’s cooperative extension service for Michigan. The program is involved with extending the university’s research and how it can help others throughout the state.
Coon collaborated with Baker for about 12 years while he was working with AgBioResearch. He said he has watched Baker adapt to a variety of different challenges during his time. He added that two things have stayed the same — his commitment to the land-grant mission and helping with faculty research.
“I really appreciate his dedication to research and how it can be put into use elsewhere,” Coon said. “He’s often the person bringing people together for research proposals. ... He has a strong sense of service to make the university work.”