by Josephine Emanuelli
On October 22, Commons was abuzz not just with visiting parents and families but with several Drew alum, students and members of the administration, all of them there to commemorate the dedication of the Joseph B. Baker C’69 lounge. Mr. Baker is an active alum and philanthropist who has donated to Drew several times before his $3.5 million donation to help with the renovation of the commons building. President Baenninger says “We renovated our commons two years ago now and that was a very expensive renovation.” She continued, “We had to fund that through a variety of means and one of that means that we funded it through is Joe’s very generous bequest of $3.5 million towards the renovation of the commons. And it’s a bequest, so what that means is that he put Drew in his will. And he’s a great alum; he’s also sponsored several scholarships at Drew and professorships”
Obviously, Baker has been integral in the improvements. Baenninger continued, “He has given during his lifetime many, many times and he’s also an ideal philanthropist because while he gives money which is important, he’s also here and present. He’s a good alum in general.”
Vice President Waldron highlighted the positive changes that have been made since President Baenninger began her tenure in the Forest. One of the most significant accomplishments has been the renovation of Commons, and after taking the stage, President Baenninger was sure to emphasize the alumni who had made this project possible, especially Baker.
Baker was then invited to the stage, where he was presented with an oversized Drew ID by Student Body President Jared Sutton (‘18) as a token of the community’s appreciation for his generous philanthropy over the years. Students are also especially appreciative of his philanthropy, as Chatham Studer (‘19) commented, “The event on Sunday that recognized Mr. Baker’s generosity to this school is something that will never be forgotten. His gift to redo the Commons is greatly appreciated by the students, the faculty, and the students to come.”
In order to ensure that Baker could enjoy the Commons he was so instrumental in funding, he was gifted a university ID so that he can visit the Commons whenever he wants. He assured those gathered that he would be back soon and would make an effort to visit more now that he has his own ID.
As the ceremony concluded, it was clear that those gathered greatly appreciated the work and kindness of Baker and it is certain that Drew students will reap the benefits of his kind gift for years to come.