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About Us

“To develop our leadership potential through meaningful conversation with professionals and practitioners in all fields, through experiences including trips to large metropolitan areas, and through a commitment to continuous learning.”

Who we are:
A select group of upper-class students, chosen by a panel of local business professionals through a rigorous application and interview process. All applicants meet a high academic standard, however, those selected are distinguished by their leadership potential. Bakers are motivated, intelligent, hard working, creative, passionate and unique.

The focus of the Baker Scholar Program is to select an elite group who plan a career in business or future graduate business studies. The intent is to provide the Baker Scholars with experiences and opportunities outside the normal curriculum of the College. The students will be selected based on their potential as leaders of America’s future organizations and institutions.

The purpose of the Baker Scholar Program at Hope College:
The underlying purpose of the Baker Program at Hope College is to expand the Baker students by pursuing professional and cultural learning found beyond the College curriculum.

How do we do it?
We achieve these purposes through involvement in activities planned by the Baker Scholars. These activities consist of:

  • Professional visits and trips
  • Engagement with significant persons
  • Service to the Department and the community
  • Social activities

The Baker Trust felt that the program at Hope College had by far the best Baker Scholar program in an undergraduate liberal arts college. Our selection process is unique. A panel of distinguished professionals serves as selectors who make the choices with no input from college personnel, providing a valuable interviewing experience in itself.

The structure of the Program:
This is a student-led organization with the support of advisors. The President and Vice President of the Baker Scholars are selected by the previous Baker class; that is, this year’s officers were selected at the end of the spring term by last year’s Bakers. Every Baker has a different role within the organization in the areas of Public Relations, Archives, Trips, Internet, and “The Exchange”.

Advisors are informed of agendas, plans, opportunities and problems on a regular basis. They provide guidance, suggestions, and contacts, as well as helping to maintain perspective and keep expectations high.


The George F. Baker Scholars Program

George F. Baker was the founder of the First National Bank of the City of New York. He and his son, George F. Baker, Jr., were very active in banking throughout their lives and were active in organizing and directing some of the nation's largest industrial and transportation corporations. To the Bakers, father and son, the need for leadership of first quality seemed to be the greatest requirement for the nation so that the unique American system could work and respond to the opportunities ahead.

At the 1927 dedication ceremonies for the original Harvard Business School buildings donated by George F. Baker, the legacy of the Baker Scholarship Programs was begun:

I make no apology for our devotion to business. It represents, for the majority of our people, the major activity of life. It is more than production. It is more than trade. It is more than transportation and finance. It is more than all of them together. It has made history. It has created the law... The leaders of our businesses are in a large measure the trustees of our opportunities. Never were the opportunities as great as now. We need today, more than ever before, individuals to administer this trust who are not only highly skilled in the techniques of business--individuals who have not only a broad outlook in history, politics, and economics--but individuals who have also that moral and religious training which tends to develop character.

The George F. Baker Trust was established through the will of George F. Baker, Jr. in 1937, the year he died. A major component of the trust was designated for education.

Since then, The George F. Baker Scholars Program has aimed at cultivating the business leadership potential of a select group of students who are business majors, emphasizing academic excellence, quality of character, responsibility, and motivation. The goal has been to develop exemplary individuals who will lead America’s future organizations and institutions. The Bakers foresaw the fulfillment of this goal through the privately supported liberal arts colleges of this country—such as Hope College—because of their position as custodians of the many of the values which are most important to the nation's cultural heritage. It was the conviction of the Bakers that diversity in academic disciplines and variety in educational experience provide a rich environment for this type of development.

History at Hope College

In the late 1960's, Mr. Lee Wenke was requested by President Calvin VanderWerf to further the development interests of Hope College by calling on foundations and trusts. He one day made a cold call on the executive director of the Baker Trust in New York City. He learned about the educational component of the trust, and the Baker scholarship program. He was also informed that there was virtually no chance that Hope College would ever be the recipient of such a program. He was, however, invited and encouraged to drop in on future visits to New York. Lee Wenke did just that, and through a period of a couple of years, slowly acquainted the executive director, Mr. Newell, with information about Hope College, and particularly of their leadership and contributions to all segments of American society and its institutions. Mr. Robert Haack, a Hope alumnus and trustee, was currently involved in the New York Stock Exchange. His prestige in the world of commerce aided the Hope cause. Mr. Newell was taken by the entrepreneurial spirit of many of Hope's grads, and saw all of these things as a good indication that he should approach the board of the Baker Trust to give some consideration to Hope College. Their board agreed to send Mr. Newell to Hope College for a visit.

In 1970, Hope College was the 33rd college in America to be selected for a Baker Scholars program, thanks for the untiring efforts of Mr. Lee Wenke. In 1977, however, the trust redirected all of their funding for education into other charitable projects. Hope College had no substitute source for funding the scholarship program. In 1980, President Gordon Van Wylen petitioned the Baker Trust and was granted the privilege of continuing the use of the Baker name with the stipulation that we would not request funding from them in the future. In 1980 we also changed the name to the Baker Scholars Program - it was originally designated as a Baker Scholarship program.

A major element of the Baker Scholar Program at Hope College is to provide unique educational opportunities to its members. These opportunities consist of experiences and exposure which cannot be duplicated in the traditional academic environment. The group frequently takes a trip to a large metropolitan area, the purpose of which is to interact with leaders in business, economics, government, and social policy. These trips provide cultural stimulation and social interactions in addition to those available in western Michigan. In previous years, the Baker Scholars have traveled to San Francisco, New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Atlanta.