BURTON — A few miles from their Saginaw Street origins, Baker College staff, alumni and students marked the school’s 100th year anniversary last Tuesday with a centennial celebration.
“It’s been one heck of a unique story,” said Baker College of Flint President Julianne Princinsky. “One hundred [years] attests to the fact that we must be doing something right.”
In 1911, Michigan’s state flag was adopted and William Durant was in the business of opening his first motor plant. Nearby, Baker College, then called the Baker Business University and Conservatory of Music, was founded by Eldon Baker and accepted its first 150 students at a Saginaw Street location in downtown Flint.
Since, the private non-profit organization has grown to serve nearly every region in Michigan with 44,000 students worldwide. This year, Baker College of Flint will graduate more students than it ever has.
“Throughout it all, we’ve stayed remarkably focused,” remarked Princinsky.
Virtually all the sites of the Baker College system began as vacant buildings. Baker College of Flint’s Bristol Road location, where the school relocated to from Saginaw Street in 1988, was the former Mandeville Middle School. Baker College President F. James Cummings remembers walking in to the newly acquired structure and planning offices where a vacant autolab stood.
The college continued its tradition of repurposing buildings in 2009, when it opened the Center for Transportation Technology at I-69 and Dort Highway, taking the place of a long-vacant car dealership.
“Baker is greatly admired,” said Edward Blews, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Michigan. “[The] college makes a profound difference.”
Cummings said that the career institution will continue to change and adapt to meet challenges in the coming years. He explained that continuing poor economic impact could limit higher education opportunities to people in the area.
“Even three years ago seems like three generations ago,” Cummings said. “Everyone in education needs to be vigilant in providing access.”
Princinsky says that the Flint campus will continue to work together like a family.
“We believe in helping Flint and this area thrive,” she said. “We continue to donate time and money to local initiatives…We are a part of the community where we reside.”