Honoring 100 for the 100th: Donald Baker

Donald R. Baker received his Bachelor of Science in Behavioral Science from Mary Hardin-Baylor University in 1973, his Masters of Science in Social Work from the University of Texas-Arlington in 1975, and his Doctor of Philosophy in Social Work from Washington University in 1984 with the assistance of a fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health (N.I.M.H.). Dr. Baker taught at Illinois State University from 1981 to 1988.

Dr. Baker arrived at the University of Oklahoma in the fall of 1988. After receiving tenure in 1993-94, Dr. Baker was invited by the N.I.M.H. to join an initiative aimed at increasing the capabilities of social work faculty to compete for federal funding - one of twenty social work faculty from across the nation asked to participate in the two-year effort. This effort culminated with Dr. Bakers work with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in writing several funded proposals in the areas of substance abuse prevention services to children, adolescents and young adults and the treatment of co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders, bringing over twelve million dollars to the agency to address these issues. Dr. Baker also assisted the agency in conducting ongoing strategic planning and the development of agency vision and direction in mental health and substance abuse treatment and prevention. Dr. Baker has served on a variety of state level and ODMHSAS boards and advisory groups, including Science to Service Academy, Governor’s Task Force on the Prevention of Underage Drinking, State-wide Epidemiological Outcomes Work Group, and the Statewide Leadership Collaborative for Strategic Prevention Initiative, to name a few.

Dr. Baker served as Director of the School of Social Work from 2005 until his retirement in 2013. During his eight years as director, Dr. Baker worked with university president David Boren to launch a new vision for the social work program by renaming it the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work and with the planning and construction of a new building reflecting state of the art instructional technology and, to better serve the university and the professional social work community, a ‘community room’ where continuing professional education has taken a prominent place in the day-to-day life of the School. Dr. Baker also worked for twelve years as both member and vice chairman of the Institutional Review Board for the University of Oklahoma, a position that, in his opinion, signifies his service to the University’s research mission.

For his contributions through leadership, research and service to the University of Oklahoma and ushering in a new era for the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, Dr. Baker was given the School’s Educational Leadership Award in 2013, as well as a Governor’s Commendation signed by Governor Mary Fallin. Being named as ‘one of the 100’ for the one hundredth anniversary of the School of Social Work is truly an honor for Dr. Baker and brings a true shine to the many enjoyable years he has spent at the University of Oklahoma.

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