Fostering Growth

The University helped him establish his artistic career.
His endowment will attract the talent to continue his legacy.

A lifelong passion

John Baker ’74 originally planned to work at West Chester University for a year — two at most. After earning his bachelor’s degree, he’d accepted a position as a part-time adjunct professor in the University’s ceramics program. John figured it was an opportunity to pay off his student loans.

“Now the loans are paid off — but I never did leave,” says John, who today serves as president of the West Chester University Foundation Board of Trustees. “Other than a few part-time jobs at other universities, WCU has been my sole employer for my entire career.”

Putting in long hours firing kilns, making glazes, and fostering an inclusive, community-focused culture, John worked his way up to become a full-time professor — then chair of the Department of Art + Design. With his oversight, the department gained accreditation from the National Association of Art and Design and made its landmark move to the E. O. Bull Center for the Arts.

Before retiring as department chair in 2015, John chose to endow the center’s gallery with a major gift. The John H. Baker Art Gallery Endowment fund provides financial support for international and local exhibitions, providing a common ground for visiting artists, students, and the public alike. “Curating exhibitions has always been a passion for me,” John says.  “Endowing the gallery is my way of giving back to the department and University.”

John Baker ’74

Donor to the John H. Baker Art Gallery
President of the West Chester University Foundation Board of Trustees Former chair of WCU’s Department of Art + Design

“A lot of our students aren’t in financial positions where they have as many opportunities to travel and gain experience. For me, there was no question that I would give back based on the opportunities that were given to me during my time here.” — John Baker

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“I’ve had over 40 outstanding years here,” John says. “When you have that depth of experience and time with the institution, there’s no question about wanting to give back — and feeling good about that.”

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