On August 12, Dr. Merrie Skaggs, ’67, was inducted into the Baker University Faculty Hall of Fame. Dr. Skaggs returned to her alma mater in 1985 as an assistant professor of education after a nearly 20-year career as an elementary school teacher in Johnston, New York, and in Leavenworth, Lansing, and Baldwin City in Kansas.
During her more than 30 years at Baker, Dr. Skaggs served as associate professor of education and chair of the undergraduate department. She retired in 2011 and was granted professor emeritus status in 2012. She returned to Baker part time as the supervisor of student teachers, a role she filled until the spring of 2021.
Dr. Skaggs received numerous awards and honors throughout her career, including two NASA Opportunities for Visionary Academics grants. As a respected educator who was often called to assist the Kansas State Department of Education in state and national program reviews, Dr. Skaggs played a vital role in the state and national teacher education accreditation process. Through her work, Baker’s process became one of the models for Kansas teacher accreditation programs.
“Dr. Skaggs has been a leader and a mentor, both in the classroom at Baker and within the wider education field,” said Baker University President Lynne Murray. “The Hall of Fame committee and I heard time and time again the profound impact Dr. Skaggs had on her students and the resulting effect on the education profession.”
This was especially true for students in Dr. Skaggs Diversity in Education course in which Baker students worked in schools with diverse populations and students of lower socioeconomic status. Through this experience, future teachers learned the importance of providing opportunities to all students to collaborate, think critically, communicate, and create and the positive impact strong teachers can have in these communities.
Faculty Hall of Fame recognition is the highest award Baker University confers upon faculty. Inductees must have served as full-time faculty members a minimum of 15 years and received off-campus recognition through service in professional organizations, scholarly publications, or fine arts performances. Faculty Hall of Fame members have demonstrated exceptional teaching ability and provided constructive citizenship in the community. Above all, Hall of Fame members have demonstrated personal character and professional skill that touched and enriched the lives of their students.
Also honored at the receptions were faculty who were promoted, awarded tenure, and granted professor emeritus status.
“I thank these faculty members for their dedication to this university and, most importantly, to their commitment to providing exceptional experiences to their students, whose lives they affect every day, leading them to meaningful careers and purposeful lives,” Dr. Murray said.
Dr. Irene Unger was awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of professor. Dr. Li Chen-Bouck was awarded tenure and promoted to the rank of associate professor. Dr. Robyn Long, ’00, was promoted to the rank of professor. Dr. Tamara Slankard was promoted to the rank of professor. Dr. Mircea Martin was promoted to the rank of professor. Prof. Gary Irick, ’79, and Dr. Kevin McCarthy were named emeritus professor.