Applicant stresses importance of community

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Applicant stresses importance of community

Story by Sara Bell, Editor

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The Presidential Search Committee announced that Carolyn Stefanco of Agnes Scott College will be the final presidential candidate to visit Baker’s campus. Stefanco serves as the as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college. She is scheduled to meet with various university constituencies on Monday and Tuesday.

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Charles Taylor, one of three finalists in the university presidential search, only applied for the presidency of one institution — Baker University.

“One of the things I find most attractive about a university presidency, this university presidency, is the ability to serve as advocate and chief on behalf of the good work that is going on at Baker University,” Taylor said. “… I think the opportunity to come to Baker University is particularly exciting because there is much to advocate for here.”

Taylor, who serves as the vice president for academic affairs for Drury University, met with various constituencies on the Baldwin City campus Thursday. He spoke with members of the Baker community on their importance to the world around them, saying the university has a responsibility to serve its community.

“One of the things that impresses me most about Baker University is that it honors that social contract,” Taylor said. “It gets where it is and what it’s about. I think it’s a part of this community, and I think it takes great pride in leaving that world better than the way it encountered it.”

Taylor also observed that calls for accountability among members of the university are “loud and fair.” He said higher education institutions are called upon to provide students with the programs they need and to deliver those programs in ways that will enrich learning.

“Baker is accountable to itself. You are accountable to each other,” Taylor said. “I think you are absolutely committed to each other and helping this place move forward in all the right kinds of ways.”

Taylor believes he can help Baker continue to improve through his professional background and skill set. In his position at Drury, Taylor “provides primary strategic and operational leadership for all of the university’s academic programs, serves as the senior member of the university’s leadership team, contributes as appropriate to work in enrollment management and resource development and serves as an effective advocate for the university with a variety of internal and external constituents.”

Although Taylor administers Drury’s faculty and academic programs, he still enjoys teaching and interacting with students. The finalist works as a professor of communication and is teaching a course with guidelines similar to Baker’s Quest program.

“I’m fundamentally about students,” Taylor said. “I love being part of the campus community … We’re on college campuses. We have access to the brightest minds among faculty, staff, etc. But what keeps us young is the ability to work with students. “

Taylor is the first of his family to earn a college degree, and Hoot Gibson, chair of the Presidential Search Committee, recognized Taylor’s continued amazement toward post-secondary education.

“Dr. Taylor is a first-generation college student, and I’ve taken to heart about his comments that being in higher education for many years, he still has a gee-whiz attitude toward higher education,” Gibson said.

The search committee has not released the identity of the third presidential finalist, but he or she is scheduled to visit Baker’s campuses on Monday and Tuesday. Community members can attend an open forum with the candidate from 4-5 p.m. Monday in the Collins House.