Honorary Alumnus of the Year: Dean Stephen P. Baker
Dean Stephen P. Baker has been a member of the Cooper union community since 1966, when he was hired to serve as a physical education instructor. When the physical education program terminated, he remained at Cooper Union as the Associate Dean of Students and was promoted in 2012 to be Dean of Athletics.
Throughout his tenure at Cooper Union, Dean Baker has been described as a one-man-athletics department in a school where academics are a priority. His motto is “no gym, no courts, no fields, no pool, no horses, no time… no excuses” and he has built championship teams consisting of students who study and attend classes an average of 6o to 8o hours a week. He grows and supports the student teams through a mixture of great coaching, appreciation for academics, and humor—one anecdote from the newly minted 1996 Women’s Tennis Team reported that after a competition year that included only one match, Dean Baker created shirts for the team that read “Women’s Tennis at Cooper Union, Undefeated since 1859.”
Articles about Dean Baker have universally commented on his paternal pride in the student athletes he works with. Dean Baker has been well known to all students, however, and hosts alumni events, including ski trips and golf tournaments. He describes the students he works with as problem-solvers with a great work ethic. And because of his own dedication and resourcefulness, many Cooper Union students have received a fuller academic experience through athletics. With presentation of this award, the Cooper Union Alumni Association welcomes Dean Baker as an honorary alumnus and recognizes his 46 years of service to The Cooper Union.