Last modified: Monday, March 24, 2008
John W. Ryan Awards for Distinguished Contributions to International Programs and Studies
Professor of Public and Environmental Affairs
School of Public and Environmental Affairs
University Graduate School
Indiana University Bloomington
Appointed to IU faculty, 1985
B.Sc. (Honors), University of Wales, 1965
M.A., University of East Africa, 1966
Ph.D., University of London, 1968
"He has had an extraordinarily positive impact on foreign students throughout the world who, because of him, remain loyal alumni of SPEA and who spread the word about IU's fame and commitment to international programs."
--Ann Marie Thomson, Adjunct Assistant Professor, School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University Bloomington
In 1991, as Bulgaria was emerging from the Soviet Union's influence, Randall Baker saw an opportunity. He traveled to the fledgling democracy with a small group of IU professors and began making connections.
"Randall managed to make superb contacts with all the appropriate movers and shakers, eventually arranging even a meeting with the first non-Communist prime minister of the country," says Henry R. Cooper Jr., professor of Slavic languages and literatures. Baker arranged for a Bulgarian educational reformist to visit IU, laid plans to found a private university (which now has 10,000 students), and when he returned to the United States, published a book about the trip.
"Most importantly," Cooper says, "Randall stayed engaged: Bulgarians came to us, we went to Bulgaria. New initiatives were constantly being launched, IU faculty were being internationalized, IU students were being exposed to students from a country many had never even heard of."
Introducing students to new countries and cultures has long been Baker's passion. As director of international programs in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA) from 1986 to 2002, he took the lead in internationalizing the school's curriculum. He developed the Comparative and International Affairs concentration in the Master of Public Affairs program and several internationally focused courses, such as Environmental Management in the Tropics. Baker also added a comparative aspect to two first-year SPEA courses. "Randall has a wonderful way of connecting with students at their own level, and encouraging them to think beyond their own particular cultural reference point," says Kerry Krutilla, an associate professor in SPEA.
Baker expands students' worldviews through exchange and overseas study programs that he has developed with universities in countries such as the Netherlands, France, Bulgaria, Haiti, and Thailand. Thanks to his efforts, SPEA master's programs are a popular destination for Muskie and Fulbright fellows from overseas. He also started the Returning Peace Corps Volunteers Program, which invites these well-traveled Americans to enroll in SPEA's graduate programs.
"Randall's management of the international program office at SPEA was very hands on and with great interest in the students he sent abroad and the foreign students that came to SPEA in return," says Henk Haitjema, chair of environmental science and policy in SPEA. Baker goes out of his way to help international students feel at home in the United States, giving them essential information, guiding them around town, opening his home to them, and hosting social events.
Throughout SPEA and IU, Baker has unabashedly encouraged faculty members to internationalize their courses and research. "I have never met an individual more driven (and unselfish) to get his university colleagues to expand their horizons into international education," writes Jim Patterson, professor of operations and decision technologies in IU's Kelley School of Business. Baker has helped IU faculty members get international appointments and invited them to assist with his own projects. SPEA faculty member Ann Marie Thomson joined Baker on a USAID-funded project at Western University in Baku, Azerbaijan. "I will always consider it one of the high points of my career," she says, and from this a graduate course in International Nonprofit Management evolved.
Baker has lent his expertise and knowledge to academics and policymakers all over the world, from advising the government of Bulgaria on its entry into the European Union to establishing schools and academic programs at Western University, Azerbaijan, and institutions in Bulgaria, the United Kingdom, Spain, Sudan, Bolivia, and Lesotho. A two-time Fulbright Senior Scholar in Bulgaria, he served as chair of the Fulbright Program's Aegean/Black Sea Region Peer Review Committee for three years. He is a sought-after speaker, respected researcher, and accomplished author whose books range from the academic to the personal memoir.
For his exceptional service and scholarship, Baker has been honored by several organizations, including Western University, Moscow State University, the New Bulgarian University, the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, and the National Institute of Development Administration in Thailand. He is an honorary citizen of the Bulgarian village of Breze.