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Professor to retire after 30 years

February 5, 2007

Bob Baker the associate dean for CAFES and a professor in the department, has decided to retire this spring.

“I am young enough now that I can be healthy when I retire,” Baker said.
Baker wants to enjoy his time of retirement.

“I have seen too many that have taken too long to retire,” Baker said. “They don’t get to enjoy their retirement, I want to enjoy mine.” 

He plans to move on to the next phase in his life.

Baker has been a professor at the University in River Falls for 30 years. He has been teaching introductory and upper level geology classes; he also teaches meteorology. Baker’s career at UW-River Falls has been one filled with many achievements. He has been the department chair for 16 years, being re-elected to that position every third year. He was also the assistant swim coach for 13 years.

Baker plans to work on some research projects that need to be finished. He has had many successful research projects and has had some students find jobs after graduation because of the work they conducted together.

“I couldn’t have done it without the students, they are a big reason as to why the projects get funded,” Baker said.

He has taught and conducted research with three students who have received exotic jobs working in the Canadian Arctic working with glaciers because of the experiments that they successfully completed.

“Without those experiences, those students wouldn’t have been able to get those kinds of jobs,” Baker said. 

Baker was not only the department chair, but also the assistant dean of the CAFES department. He moved into the position this year. Both of those responsibilities meant less teaching for him. He has been a full-time faculty member for 16 years, but has only been teaching half of that time because of the added responsibilities.

Gunnar Umnus, a fifth year student at UWRF took Baker’s class.

“He was always willing to answer questions and help you understand,” said Umnus.

“I am going to miss it very much,” Baker said. “The students have been my life for so long and I have really enjoyed working with them all.

Becky Kallinen, a UWRF graduate also had Baker as a professor. “I liked him because he had a really organized way of teaching,” Kallinen said. “He didn’t have unreasonable expectations and he didn’t go off on tangents.”

According to Baker the department plans to hire from outside the department instead of from within.

“We want someone who has more experience. We also want someone who has experience with soil sciences,” Baker said.

The person that will be hired as Baker’s replacement will need to have experience with soil sciences, general geology and meteorology. He or she will also need to have the qualifications to handle working with students of good and bad status.

“There is a large void that needs to be filled with this person who is going to be hired,” Baker said.

The CAFES department is trying to replace the soil science professors because of lack of funding. The department has had a need for someone educated in working with soil sciences, and now will be able to find someone that will qualify for both positions.

The department will now begin to interview and is taking the time to find an adequate replacement for Baker.

Baker will now have time to finish the things he has wanted to get done.

“I have about a 2-page list of chores to do at home,” Baker said “I have had a great experience here and will miss it very much.”