Journal Title George Fox Journal Online

Words from Wood-Mar

Cloud of Witnesses

President Robin Baker

“I am the product
of the investment
of dozens of
caring people.”

On March 6, I was inaugurated as the 12th president of George Fox University. I was honored and humbled as an entire community stopped to recognize and pray for my new role in leadership of the university.

The occasion also provided me with an opportunity to reflect. Left to my own dreams, I would not be here. When I was in my late teens, I envisioned myself as a great basketball player or perhaps a championship coach like my father. It never entered my mind that I might become a professor or even a college president.

When I look back on my upbringing, I believe there were four things that shaped my world: faith, family, education, and competition. My parents were teachers and dedicated their lives to shaping and educating young men and women, especially their three children. In rural Arizona towns that didn’t exceed 2,000 people, we experienced community in ways that we rarely know now. We had a television, but stations were few. Computers did not exist. After our studies were complete, we played in parks and on ball fields. We traveled with my father on his basketball coaching trips and learned early in life the importance and joy of competing. We ate well. My mother always fed us with chicken, roast beef, mashed potatoes, and vegetables galore. More than anything else, we learned nothing came before the Church and honoring our Lord. At any extended family gathering, we knew Scripture would be read and Jesus honored. When I left home, my mother wrote often of her great faith that if I let the Lord work in my life, he would use me in a special way to build the kingdom.

At college I found professors with deep faith. It was because of their time and commitment that I came to believe that I could teach. They helped me understand God’s call on my life and that I needed to listen to his voice to recognize where he wanted to use me. I saw in them the kind of person I wanted to be.

I am not self made. I am the product of the investment of dozens of caring people who took the time to mentor and shape me. For me, they are the “cloud of witnesses” in Hebrews 12:1–2.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Since 1891, George Fox University has helped young men and women find their own callings, empowering them to participate with God in bringing kingdom values into our world. There have been 11 presidents prior to me and hundreds of professors, administers and staff dedicated to that task. Together we have built a place where students encounter God and earn a first-class education. I am privileged to serve here today.

Robin Baker signature

Robin Baker


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