Carroll County Times
WESTMINSTER, Md. (AP) — Ellen Earp Baker, 72, has been connected to McDaniel College all her life, with her father having been a faculty member before her.
Baker, now a Sykesville resident, grew up in Westminster and spent much of her time on what was then the Western Maryland College campus, taking summer jobs until she left for college at Drew University in New Jersey.
“I worked in the dining hall, I stuffed envelopes for public relations, I was secretary to a football coach, I made beds for summer conferences,” she said. “I did everything.”
She eventually returned, earning a master’s degree in curriculum and supervision from Western Maryland in 1987.
Baker was honored at a banquet Oct. 18 for her commitment to her alma mater with McDaniel’s Alumni College Service Award. The award is presented to alumni who have demonstrated extraordinary dedication to McDaniel through various acts of service to the school, according to Alumni Association President Debi Cameron. Baker is the first former graduate student to earn the award in the college’s history.
Since her graduation, Baker has been a member of and chaired multiple committees with the Alumni Association, which handles outreach to other alumni and undergraduates. At the same time, she was teaching social studies at Francis Scott Key High School for a total of 24 years before retiring in 2005. During her tenure, she also won the county’s Outstanding Teacher Award.
Within her committees, she would plan events, like hot chocolate nights for undergraduates. One of her favorites was a Valentine’s Day party for couples who had met on campus.
Kristin Lister, McDaniel’s associate director of alumni relations, said she worked with Baker from 2010-2012, when Baker was chairwoman of the undergraduate outreach committee.
She said Baker was hands-on and hard-working — Lister recalls Baker always being the first to volunteer to hand out “Alumni-in-Training” mugs, a school tradition, to the freshmen — and being the first to recruit others to do the same.
“Ellen is just a great leader,” Lister said. “She’s always so organized and on point.”
Currently, Baker chairs the Graduate Alumni subcommittee of the Presidential Task Force Implementation Committee. She also is enrolled in a gerontology course, which deals with the study of aging.
“Just to keep my mind sharp,” she said.
Her husband, Dr. Alva “Buzz” Baker, is an instructor within the gerontology program, and served as the director of McDaniel’s Center for the Study for Aging until 2013.
Ellen Baker recalls in 2007, when the center opened, that the program didn’t meet the minimum number of students, and so she rounded up her friends to enroll, just so it could stay alive.
“I’ve also tried to support the graduate programs as best I can,” she said.
The nomination process for the award is long and complex, Cameron said. A member of the community — anyone can nominate, not just McDaniel alumni or students — needed to go online and describe the recipient’s accomplishments at the college. The application is open year-round, Cameron said.
In the spring, the Alumni Office verifies the information provided by the nominator by contacting the nominee, and a committee of eight sifts through the hopefuls and selects a winner. Cameron could not identify how many were nominated for Baker’s award.
“We’re looking for somebody who has served at the school over a significant period of time,” Cameron said. “Especially considering what a lot of what the nominees do is volunteer work.”
Baker said she was honored to receive her award, especially when she and the other recipients of the alumni awards, were marched through Westminster during McDaniel’s homecoming parade.
“It’s very special to me; the school has given me so much,” Baker said.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)