By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor
University of Toledo administrators, staff and faculty joined the family members of the late Dr. Donald Baker, MD, a distinguished alumnus, to dedicate the Dr. Donald Baker Student Resource Room on Thursday, June 10. The ceremony was held at the entrance to the room – University Hall Room 2380.
“This is a continuation of a process that started on the heels of the George Floyd [incident] last year,” said Willie McKether, PhD, vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and the master of ceremonies for the dedication event. McKether noted that the room is part of a process that will “help our students develop and hone their social resources consciousness.”
The resource room is a result of a partnership between the university’s Center for Racial Equity and Black Student Excellence and its Africana Studies Program.
UToledo President Gregory Postel, PhD, also attended the ceremony and spoke of the two missions that the Student Resource Room will undertake.
“The first mission is to foster a culture that is welcoming and inclusive,” he said. “The second mission is to look specifically at black students and promote academic excellence.” The importance of the second mission, he said, is rooted in the “achievement gap” between black students and their classmates. It is a gap which closed dramatically during the 2020-21 academic year but still has a long way to go, said Postel.
The driving forces behind the creation of the Student Resource Room, a place for students to study and hang out between classes, are Tiffany Preston Whitman, PhD, director Student Success Initiatives, and Gentry Willis, ODI Program Manager.
Last week’s dedication was not just a university event, it was also a family affair. Speaking of the impact of Dr. Baker on the university and community were his brother, Al Baker, who serves as the UToledo Board of Trustees chairman, and his son, Aaron Baker, who was on the UToledo staff for about a half dozen years. Both related stories and anecdotes highlighting Dr. Baker’s concern for others.
There were significant contributions.
Dr. Baker, an orthopedic surgeon, was a standout football player at Scott High School and at UToledo, playing offense and defense from 1962 to 1942 for the Rockets. After graduation he was a teacher at Scott and Macomber before enrolling at the former Medical College of Ohio.
After earning his medical degree, Dr. Baker opened a practice on Jefferson Avenue and would use his skills as an orthopedic surgeon as a team doctor for Scott and Macomber high schools and the Toledo Storm hockey team through the years.
Al Baker mentioned the Dorr Secor Walk-In Clinic that his brother opened in 1983 as a critically important community asset – a clinic that anyone could go to, said Al Baker.
The Center for Racial Equity focuses primarily on services and programming for Black students to graduate and excel in their careers but is also inclusive of all underrepresented minority students.