It’s busy behind the scenes at Baker
As a university, Baker is seen as a place for education and ideas a heartbeat of culture and knowledge.
But more importantly, Baker is people. Although students are obviously the most important community Baker serves, it takes the teamwork of faculty and staff to keep it going.
Baker food services served 140,396 meals during the last academic year. It's a lot of food. And that's not counting all the catering, cakes, game food and special events arranged by the group.
Although he doesn't spend a lot time dishing out meals in the food line, Darrell Bowersox, food services director, is intimately involved with the meals and snacks consumed by each faculty member, staff, student and guest on campus.
"I guess you could say I help make sure the cupboards aren't bare," said Bowersox, who has worked at Baker for 15 years.
With delivery trucks arriving almost everyday, there's little chance of that. And there's an art to pleasing as many people as possible with food.
"You have to develop and change your menu for the people you are serving," Bowersox said. "You can't serve hot dogs and hamburgers every day. And you want to keep up with food trends."
Easier said than done, especially when your hungry audience includes vegetarians, students, athletes, diabetics and others with dietary restrictions. Bowersox credits his excellent staff for the popularity of the Harter Union Dining Room.
"We certainly do our best to offer something for everyone," Bowersox said.
Bowersox started working with food while attending Pittsburg State University. He said he needed a job and found one on-campus washing dishes. He soon become cook and then student manager. A four-year stint cooking in the U.S. Navy solidified his food service training.
"I grew up cooking," he said. "My mom worked, so I had to cook. I cook at home too. I'm no gourmet chef, but there is a big difference between cooking for me and my wife and cooking for 400 people."
You may not have seen Judy Fox, but if you've called Baker on the phone, you've probably heard her.
Fox is the pleasantly voiced woman who answers Baker's main phone number. As university operator, it's her job to see the right calls get to the right people.
"I enjoy talking to people on the phone, even when it's ringing off the hook," Fox said. "Most people are just glad the phone is answered by a real person."
Fox, who has been at Baker two years, is usually at her busiest during the beginning of the semester when she receives calls from parents looking for their child.
"I've had parents call looking for their daughter since they've called and called and left messages and she's never called them back," Fox said. "I've had parents call wondering where their son is since he promised to call the second he arrived on campus and he didn't. It really makes my day when I can help people like this."
Fox used to run her own antique and fine arts shipping company in Kansas City, Mo., and adapted her customer service philosophy to her job at Baker.
"I used to tell my employees our customers come to us with a very valuable item and leave it in our hands," she said. "They trust us to do the job right and the only thing they would leave with was a good feeling. You can equate this to parents dropping off their children. I have a big responsibility because I'm usually the first person people talk to. If I'm not helpful, it sticks with them."
Fix it up
J.T. Cardens has put his naval training to good use at Baker. Just as a ship on the ocean acts as a small city, providing shelter, food and power to a group, so does Baker.
Cardens, director of the physical plant, makes sure the Baker ship doesn't sink.
"My staff and I work to maintain all aspects of campus," he said. "We are in charge of landscaping, housekeeping, maintenance and security. It's our responsibility to keep the university functioning, to the point where you only notice something that's wrong."
Cardens, who has been at Baker for four years, has probably been more places on campus than anyone else. He's been on the roofs of most of the buildings. He's climbed through ceiling panels, walked athletic fields and crawled through basements. He's even taken a walk through the underground steam tunnels once used to heat campus.
He doesn't have a "typical" day. Although there may be a plan to mow a lawn or rewire a room, the phone can ring and plans change.
"I have to admit my staff deserves the credit for the work," Cardens said. "These people are so conscientious with a strong sense of responsibility. There are times when it seems like it can't be done and my staff will make it happen."
When Cardens isn't on campus (he usually arrives between 5 and 5:30 a.m.) you can find him on the golf course. To him, playing 18 holes is a sanity check.
"When things get crazy, different people do different things," he said. "Some people fish. Some dig in the yard. To me, it's the golf course. I'm not good, but I enjoy it. I'll play anywhere they'll let me on."
Richard Bayha is trying to bring Baker news to Baldwin City. Curious about the local cable channel dedicated to area news? Talk to Bayha. Been listening to KNBU-FM, the local radio station? Bayha helps keep it going.
Bayha is a professor of mass communication and chair of Baker's department of mass communication and theatre arts. He's been at Baker since 1991, but has taught for 32 years.
"I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't enjoy it," Bayha said. "Communication students can be the most outgoing kids on campus. They can challenge you. But if it's done well, it helps keep professors relevant."
One of the biggest changes Bayha said he's seen at Baker is in the students.
"TheIR expectations have changed," he said. "Not only from what they expect of their education but also what they expect from their professors. So learning how to trust each other is usually the first step."
Students today, especially those interested in broadcasting, want hands-on experience. Bayha is working to bring that to them with the campus radio station and cable-access channel.
The radio station, KNBU-FM, will crank up again this fall after the students return to campus. Bayha hopes to add regular programming as well as news breaks and student shows to the schedule. KNBU-FM is at 89.7 on the FM dial.
At the television channel, Bayha is working on smoothing out the technical difficulties and hoping to include some student programming soon. KNBU-TV is found on channel 99 of the Mediacom cable lineup.
In his spare time, Bayha is involved in the community something he considers a priority.
"It's important for everyone to get involved in their community, no matter where they live or work," he said. "That's what keeps communities alive."
Bayha, who worked with his sons in the Boy Scouts of America, also provides sound effects for high school performances and works with several local groups.