James M. Baker
“I will strive to be a good steward of the education I have attained, and to help young people.”
So spoke Clayton State University alumnus James M. “Jim” Baker, III, on Saturday Nov. 12 on the occasion of the naming in his honor of the University’s signature building. Since its opening in August 2004, the Clayton State University Center has been the center of learning, encompassing classrooms, meeting rooms, faculty, administrative and student organization offices, the University’s College of Information and Mathematical Sciences, dining services, the campus bookstore, the campus help desk and more than 2,000 data drops.
“From this day forward, this building will be known as the James M. Baker University Center,” proclaimed Clayton State President Dr. Thomas K. Harden, in one of the highlights of the 3 p.m. naming ceremony. “We are proud that he is an alumni, and is true to his school.”
A 1976 graduate of the then-Clayton Junior College and one of metro Atlanta’s foremost real estate developers as president of Chaseland Corporation and Baker & Lassiter, Baker has stayed involved with Clayton State University throughout the years. He has served as a member of Clayton State University’s School of Technology Advisory Committee, and in 2004 was named Outstanding Alumni for Clayton State by his fellow alumni.
Indeed, the pride of counting Baker among the University’s 12,000+ alumni was a recurring theme of the program, as was the value and importance of education, which he has furthered through the first gift in excess of seven figures to the Clayton State University Foundation.
“This is an historic step forward; a building named for one of our students,” said Dr. Eugene Hatfield, head of the Department of Social Sciences in speaking as the faculty representative. In fact, Hatfield was more than a faculty representative, he was also one of Baker’s professors when, as a young History faculty member, he arrived at Clayton Junior College in 1976. “We are proud if him and of his service to the community.”
“Jim, you make us all very proud of you. I am humbled to be in your presence,” added Dr. Harry S. Downs, the institution’s president when Baker was a student.
Speaking on behalf of the Clayton State University Foundation, Robert Lee, chairman of the Foundation, expressed his gratitude and appreciation to Baker for his gift, noting Baker’s, “desire to help others through education.”
G. Robert Oliver, former chairman of the Clayton State University Foundation and now an emeritus trustee, also noted Baker’s appreciation of education, saying, “you understand and appreciate the value of education… as you say, `through education there is hope.’”
“I appreciate all of you being a part of my education,” said Baker, in addressing the entire audience of 200+ family, friends, faculty, staff and students. “I am a product of all the people I have met.”
In a similar fashion, all who pass through the James M. Baker University Center on their way to an education will now be a product of its namesake.