Tony Baker, Ph.D.
455 Madison Avenue SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Term 1: July 1, 2008 - June 30, 2009 (elected to fill the remaining term of Jim Rinck)
Term 2: July 1, 2009 - December 31, 2014
Term 3: Jan 1, 2019 - December 31, 2022
B.A. Anderson University, 1985, Sociology, Religion
M.A. University of Illinois at Chicago, 1989, Sociology
Ph.D. University of Illinois at Chicago, 1995, Sociology
Professor of Sociology and Founding Director, Center for Latino Studies, Ferris State University
Dr. Baker was born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio. He attended college at Anderson University in Anderson, Indiana. During college, he participated in a summer internship in Chicago in 1984, working with teens from the west side in the Cabrini-Green and Humbolt Park neighborhoods. This experience influenced his decision to work toward understanding and improving urban communities.
After college, he attended the University of Illinois at Chicago to expand this interest with graduate studies in Sociology. While in Chicago, Tony worked with the Urban Life Center where he studied Chicago neighborhoods and facilitated urban studies programs for college students. After completing his Ph.D., he accepted a position at Ferris State University to teach sociology and community studies. He has been successful at engaging students and faculty beyond the classroom by connecting the University with broader community needs. This has resulted in partnerships with the local Intermediate School District on improving Early Childhood Education access, and with the local Department of Human Services preparing children who are in foster care to live independently after "aging out," as well as research collaborations with the Baldwin/Idlewild community and student learning in Chicago.
Tony has two children Maya, who attends City Middle and Samuel, who attends Grand Rapids Montessori. Both children attended Grand Rapids Montessori since their years in Pre-K. Tony began his service in GRPS as an active volunteer at the school. This involvement reflects his ongoing commitment to the city and recognition of the unique resources that GRPS offers.
Tony says, "The most meaningful experiences I have had are volunteering on occasions at my children's school. Traveling to the zoo or the pumpkin patch with my children and their classmates has given me the chance to be a part of "their village." It is fascinating how these small interactions with the children go so far, for them and especially for me." He says he is fascinated by watching their learning experiences and is very impressed with their growth in Grand Rapids Public Schools. Being on the board as they grow up allows him an invaluable insight into the challenges of doing education well. They and their teachers offer tremendous insight into the efforts that need to be made for all children.
Since he began service on the board, Tony has also actively encouraged community/school partnerships, including encouraging his employer, Ferris State University, to invest in increasing community support for creating a college-going culture. He firmly believes that the work of educating children in the district is the responsibility of the entire community.
Tony is currently working as the Founding Director of the Center for Latino Studies at Ferris State University. This involves creating relationships with urban and Latino community organizations throughout Grand Rapids and West Michigan.