Long known as a business college, Bart Daig, president of Baker College, knows many still view the institution that way. To change the perception, Daig recently oversaw a school-wide re-branding effort, resulting in the BakerProud initiative. DBusiness Daily News spoke with Daig about what BakerProud will mean for the students who live, work, and study at the school’s nine campuses.
1. DDN: What brought on Baker College’s re-branding effort?
BD: First off, rebranding doesn’t mean there’s a change to our mission, philosophy, or what we’ve been doing here for more than 100 years. The change in the identity itself is just a change in the model for the institution as we continue to forge ahead. We wanted to shine a brighter spotlight on who we are, our degree options, and the success of our students and our alumni. We thought about what that meant and how we could do that, and we crafted a brand statement that we think captures the essence of who we are and what we do, and we came to symbolize it around the term BakerProud.
2. DDN: What are you hoping BakerProud achieves?
BD: Our goal moving forward is to drive awareness that the college is a large academic institution with a diverse variety of offerings. We service a wide range of students, organizations, and communities and have an academic depth ranging from health professions and engineering, to business, and technology. We have nine campuses across Michigan and we offer programs online as well, and we have bachelor programs, graduate level programs, and our major goal is to drive awareness of who we are and what we do. We hope to be able to do that through this campaign.
3. DDN: Why do you think students choose Baker College, and what are your most popular programs?
BD: When we reach out for feedback about why our students chose our institution, primarily it’s because of the diverse academic offerings that we have and that they’re career-focused in their education. The programs are designed to achieve specific outcomes related to the knowledge, skills, and ability they need to be successful in their careers. Another area we get a lot of comments on is about the learning environment and how the facilities use state of the art equipment. The faculty to student ratio is also small, and our average class size is 20 students. That allows for a high level of faculty to student interaction, and also student-to-student interaction, they’re really high energy classes. We want to make sure there are high levels of engagement and commitment to students’ success in our learning models. In terms of our programs, the College of Health Sciences is very popular and we have a variety of practitioner-based programs and some administrative programs, as well. About 27 percent of our students are in health science programs and another 13 percent are in nursing, so the nursing program is also very large. We have about 23-24 percent of students in our College of Business, which houses multiple majors including accounting, business management, and finance. We also have a fair amount of students in information technology, social sciences, and education as well.
4. DDN: What is Baker College’s role in Michigan’s education landscape?
BD: Our role is really to serve the communities where we exist, and five of our campuses do have housing, so students come from all over the state to those campuses. But the other campuses are commuter campuses, and we’re really there to serve students and employers in those communities, especially because many people who go to school there continue to live and work in those communities. Our role is to be a good community citizen and make sure our programs are what those communities need as far as workforce, and we ensure that our programs align with the needs of those employers.
5. DDN: How has the rising cost of higher education impacted your students?
BD: Obviously we see the continued questioning of the value of an education and worries about increases in student debt levels. It is a concern because you want to remain affordable for students and be a good value for them. Our tuition is very competitive in the marketplace and we’re lower than the average four-year tuition throughout Michigan. We want to do as much as we can, so we offer several institutional scholarships for students, whether they be high school graduates or transfer students. Students who have a 3.5 grade point average coming out of high school can get a scholarship for approximately half their tuition annually for their four years of school here, and we offer similar programs for transfer students. For students who have shown success in the classroom, we want to give them some incentives to get into school and attend full time, which is shown to positively impact graduation rates.