Henry Baker, PhD, wants to make a direct impact on a student’s life and not only through his teaching and research.
Throughout his 29-year career at the UF College of Medicine, Baker has followed a personal mission to give back to the university that has given so much to him. As chair of the department of molecular genetics and microbiology and a member of the college’s admissions committee, he’s compared UF to other medical schools and realized that UF does not yet have the large endowments that other schools use to recruit students.
“We aim for the highest caliber of students, but sometimes, because medical school is expensive, it really does come down to dollars and cents for these students when choosing a school,” Baker said.
The recently established Henry V. Baker, PhD, and Susan E. Baker Scholarship is intended to draw high-achieving students to the college during recruitment. The first Baker Scholarship was recently awarded to Ellery Altschuler, a first-year student, for the 2016–17 academic year.
Baker has been the spark for more than one scholarship. This year, he encouraged other department chairs to form the Friends of Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences to fund the Council of Academic Chairs Scholarship, awarded to a doctoral candidate in the UF College of Medicine. In addition, Baker helped fund the Kenneth and Laura Berns Genetics Institute Endowment, which supports teaching, research and programs that advance the field of genetics for the benefit of patients in the College of Medicine. He also donated a significant sum to the George T. Harrell, MD, Medical Education Building in honor of Dean Michael L. Good’s “tireless efforts to bring an up-to-date facility to the college’s students.”
Baker’s motivation is simple: to directly impact the experience of a single student, not necessarily by donating a piece of equipment or contributing to a large fund, but by helping one student thrive through his and his wife’s philanthropy.
Looking out of his office window directly across from the Harrell Medical Education Building, he reads the sign on the front of the building: “Learn, Care, Lead.” And those words are exactly why Baker feels compelled to support the UF College of Medicine.
“The philosophy at UF is really holistic,” he said. “We want people who are going to be great physicians and make an impact in people’s lives — those who will be leaders.”