President Baker Soon To Be On Sabbatical
Reported by Danielle Brown
Next semester, President Robin Baker will be taking his first sabbatical since he has been at George Fox University (GFU). He was encouraged to do so by the Board of Trustees who feel that the break will be beneficial to both him and GFU.
While sabbaticals are often taken by faculty members to offer a time of physical and spiritual renewal as well as reconnection with family and friends, they are not regularly taken by administrators. However, the Board feels that a short break from President Baker’s relentless administrative duties will renew and prepare him to meet the new challenges that will bring GFU into the future.
“The sabbatical provides me time away from my normal administrative duties to strengthen my own personal mission and in that, the mission of the University,” said President Baker.
During this period of time, President Baker will focus on the aspects of his life that are essential to him — the study of history, his spiritual walk and his physical health. He will also be looking into the life one of GFU’s previous presidents, Levi Pennington.
“I want to examine the letters and papers of [Levi] Pennington because he had such a dynamic impact on the history and trajectory of George Fox,” said President Baker. “He writes extensively and his writing is personal and visionary. As I read his work, I am inspired by how he met the challenges and I think our community could also be inspired by many of his thoughts.”
The university’s archives contain 36 boxes of Levi Pennington’s belongings, including letters that were written in his 31-year presidency at GFU. Both the Great Depression and two world wars occurred during Pennington’s Presidency. President Baker hopes to understand more about the character of this respected man through his letters that can be shared with the public and applied to his own life.
He also will be traveling to England and Ireland to renew his personal interest in C.S. Lewis and other Inklings. “I will read much of Lewis again as well as other spiritual books that I would not have time to read during my normal work schedule,” said President Baker.
Finally, as most of the GFU campus knows, President Baker loves to run. During his sabbatical, he will be traveling to compete in several well-known races such as the Runner’s Den Pancake Run in his hometown and the Maui Oceanfront 10K in Lahaina.
In his place on campus, Fred Gregory and the vice presidents will be covering most of President Baker’s responsibilities. He will still be attending meetings for organizations that he represents as president of GFU.
President Baker said that while he is on sabbatical, he still plans to be present on campus. “I love my job and, in particular, working with the students at George Fox University. It has been a privilege to mentor and work with the students who come to our campus.”