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Emeritus Who Spent Nearly Half of Century at Morrisville State College to Give Keynote Address at 100th Commencement Ceremony May 14

MORRISVILLE, N.Y.—As Morrisville State College celebrates its 100th commencement ceremony this year, a man noted for creating much of its pomp and circumstance and seeing the college through nearly half a century of growth and change is returning to address graduates.

Lawrence “Larry” Baker, of Hamilton, N.Y., will give the keynote address during the college’s ceremony May 14 at 1 p.m. in the new athletic stadium. In case of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held indoors in the recreation center.

Throughout the nearly five decades he spent at the college, Baker worked under four different college presidents. He witnessed and had his hands in a myriad of growth including enrollment jumping from 800 to more than 3,300 students, the addition of a branch campus in Norwich, construction of new buildings, the advent of technology—wireless, laptop computers, cell phones, the addition of numerous curriculums and bachelor degree programs, and the growth of the athletics program.

Although he retired in 1991, Baker, 77, returned as part-time as assistant to the president for special projects, a position that included coordinating commencement and emeriti functions, as well as working with the Community/Campus Relations Committee, an organization which plans special events between the campus and community. He stayed until Dec. 2004 when he officially retired.

Baker, who grew up in Utica, came to Morrisville in 1962 as an instructor in the college’s School of Business. He didn’t intend to stay long.

“I planned on staying for three years and I ended up spending half of my life there,” he said.

Throughout his career at Morrisville State College, Baker wore many hats including professor, chairman of the business division, vice president for administration and acting president.

During his tenure, his name became synonymous with commencement, an event he coordinated for 25 years. 

“The highs in his career included being a part of the college’s growth and being a part of students’ lives,” said Amy Roberts, director of public relations. “It is fitting to have him return for our one-hundredth celebration to share his memories and accomplishments with graduates.”

Under Baker’s leadership, the college’s commencement ceremony grew into a colorful spectacle with graduates taking roles as standard-bearers, members of the color guard, mounted riders, and student speakers.

Baker has been a part of 45 commencement ceremonies from which he’s complied a keepsake box filled with tassels, photographs and various sentimental memorabilia—even a program from every ceremony.

“Through his work with commencement, he truly impacted the lives of thousands of students, a college campus and a community,” Roberts said.

Baker is active in his community where he serves as a commissioner on the Municipal Utilities Commission in Hamilton; is a member, former secretary and former two-term chairman of the Community Memorial Hospital Board; chairman of the Community Memorial Hospital Foundation; and member of the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board. He is past treasurer of the Mid-York Foundation (a charitable organization) and served as president of the Auxiliary Corporation, now the Morrisville Auxiliary Corporation (MAC), for 12 years.

He is also heavily involved at his church. At one time, he served as trustee and mayor of Hamilton and in 1999, he was honored during a tribute to raise money for historic Madison Hall, in Morrisville, for his many years of community service in southern Madison County. He also received the Roses for the Living Award from the Hamilton Rotary in 2007 and was named an Honorary Alumni of Morrisville State College.

Baker earned bachelor and master’s degrees from SUNY Albany and an associate degree from Mohawk Valley Community College.

For more information about the college’s commencement exercises, visit www.morrisville.edu/commencement.
Morrisville State College sets the world in motion for students. Curriculums are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology. Visit www.morrisville.edu to experience, Morrisville in motion.

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