Newly-hired faculty find right fit

Story by Taylor Shuck, Editor

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With the large number of applications that typically come to Baker when a teaching position opens up, it’s often difficult for a selection committee to narrow the field of candidates to one right choice. For Professor of Biology Darcy Russell, it’s important to find someone that fits into the Baker family.

“For me, the most important quality in anyone that joins the faculty at Baker is that they are student-centric, that they are going to put the needs of the students first,” Russell said. “I think as a professor, you need to keep learning and grow and develop oneself, but he or she should also be thinking what is good for the students, what is right for the students and how can they help them the most.”

Five new full-time professors will join the Baldwin City faculty along with a temporary Spanish professor to replace Sandra Schumm while she is on sabbatical. BU is currently in the search process for a marketing professor, a religious studies faculty member and a director of bands. The university has already hired a professor of biology to replace retiring professor Cal Cink and added a new professor to join the Mass Media & Visual Arts Department.

Alumnus Scott Kimball will join the biology staff and University of Kansas doctoral student McKay Stangler will join the media program.

As a Baker student, Kimball was taught by Cink, and in the back of his mind, he knew he always wanted to come back to BU. When he was asked to apply for the position, it seemed like a good fit.

“In 10 years, I hope Baker is the place I retire from,” Kimball said. “Baker’s been one of those places that’s been a part of my family, and going back is like going back to my family. It’s always been something that I’ve loved and been attached to.”

Stangler also always wanted to work at Baker, but not because he graduated from the institution. He got his bachelor’s degree from Truman State University and his master’s at the University of Kansas, but he knew he wanted to work at the place that has been described to him as great.

Stangler said that he and his wife used to joke and say, “Wouldn’t it just be a treat to teach at Baker?” as he would check the website for job openings. He knows the hardships of the academic job market, so when he saw the opening for the PR position, he knew not to get his hopes too high.

“We didn’t want to get too excited,” Stangler said. “It still sort of feels like a joke.”

Both professors are excited to work at a school that will give them a chance to develop relationships with students. Stangler hopes to be an integral part of the Baker community and to help others in the field of language use.

“At Baker, it’s very oriented around discussion and student engagement,” Stangler said. “Teaching is a cooperative process. I don’t want to be a stage model and just lecture for an hour.”

Kimball agreed, saying he loved the learning environment at Baker when was an undergraduate. He said he was “born into biology” and is excited to teach his passion.

“At Baker, there are a lot more opportunities to interact with students,” Kimball said. “What’s really attractive about that is being able to really mentor them into their career goals.”