Lake Superior State University received a gift of cash and property totaling $700,000 from Dr. Constance M. Baker, retired nursing dean, to support the Center for Freshwater Research and Education (CFRE) and its outreach and education mission. The gift will fund the Discovery Center at CFRE, which will be named in Baker’s honor.
The Discovery Center will be located at the entrance of the CFRE and includes a two-story area where children and adults can see and experience the importance of being at the nexus of the Great Lakes; the lakes account for 80% of the freshwater in the U.S. and over 20% of the freshwater on the planet.
After a distinguished career in the nursing field, Baker held many other positions within higher education including: professor and chair at Lake State, dean of nursing at the University of South Carolina, dean of the internationally-acclaimed School of Nursing at Indiana University (IU), director of graduate programs at the Center of Philanthropy and coordinator of international health initiatives in the Office of International Affairs at IU. Baker’s work in health initiatives took her to Africa, Europe, Asia, and Latin America.
Baker received several honors throughout her career including the Alumni Association Award for Nursing Scholarship and Research. She was inducted into the Teacher’s College Hall of Fame at Columbia University.
LSSU President Emeritus Peter T. Mitchell thanked Baker for her donation.
“How wonderful that one of my last official actions as president is to accept this extraordinarily generous gift,” stated Mitchell. “Connie has become a dear friend to Becky (Mitchell’s wife) and me. Her intellect and keen wit have brought much laughter and joy to us. Her passion for children combined with her love of her hometown make this a very meaningful gift.”
Baker holds a graduate degree in philanthropy, which Mitchell stated, “is a fancy name of fundraising, so she knows the importance of major gifts to a project like CFRE.”
Baker added, “Funding the Discovery Center at CFRE reflects my commitment to investing in projects that have an impact on children’s development and also showcases women’s critical role in philanthropy.”
Baker’s $700,000 donation follows a $1 million gift by Dick and Theresa Barch and brings the fundraising total to over $3.2 million to date. Groundbreaking for the CFRE is scheduled to take place July 20 immediately following the LSSU Board of Trustee’s Meeting.