Greek Leaders Remember Roy Baker Fondly
When Roy Baker, the Director of Greek life, departs Penn State for West Virginia University, members of the Greek community will miss him dearly.
There was much apprehension when Dr. Baker became director. The Daily Orange described Baker’s time as director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs at Syracuse University as a “shaky tenure.” He had applied stricter regulations on Syracuse’s Greek organizations, such as guest lists for parties and full-year housing commitments. Max Wendkos, the 2010 IFC President, told Onward State that because of these moves at Syracuse, the Greeks perceived Dr. Baker negatively when he arrived. However, Baker offered the Greek councils more autonomy. For example, he helped the IFC establish a judicial board to discipline misbehaving fraternities. Once the IFC established the judicial board, Wendkos said, “[Baker] was no longer was [the] disciplinarian.” If a fraternity “did something that would get them in trouble, he’d be in discussion with the administration and nationals, but never did he influence what discipline the judicial board would give.”
Wendkos also described Dr. Baker as “very, very, very” anti-hazing. He brought in speakers to educate fraternity brothers about not engaging in the practice. However, according to Wendkos, Baker faced an “insane uphill battle” with fraternity alumni who were curious about changes to their chapters’ hazing practices.
The staff in the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life also remember Dr. Baker’s time in office very benevolently. During his time in office, Dr. Baker established an annual accreditation process that challenges fraternities and sororities to meet and exceed minimum requirements in educational programming, philanthropy, and community service, as well as the Neighbor to Neighbor program, which connects IFC chapters with permanent State College residents, and the Greek Column Awards, a celebration of leadership and accomplishments in the Greek community. He also built relations between the Greek communities and Red Cross, the State College Area Food Bank Thanksgiving Basket Drive, and the State College After Prom.
Ankit Bhasin, the current president of the Multicultural Greek Council, describes Dr. Baker as a “fantastic adviser.”
“He’s helped us a ton on how to deal with difficult situations, and his expansive experience is invaluable. I know for myself and for all the future MGC executive boards, that he will always be a resource and close friend.”
When the MGC closed Sigma Lambda Gamma last year for hazing, “Roy and Jazmyn [Pulley, the MGC adviser,] both helped guide us through this difficult situation. They advised us on what has happened with similar situations in the past. And helped us gauge the severity of the situation,” Bhasin said.
Abby Renko, the President of the Panhellenic Council, will also miss Dr. Baker’s guidance.
“He has served not only as an adviser but also as a listening ear and a strong support system to both of our Executive Boards as we faced a plethora of challenge this past year, something we will forever be grateful to him for,” Renko said. “Among many other things, his passion for and devotion to improving new member education programs over this past year will inevitably leave a legacy after his departure.”
However, not everyone will remember Baker’s time at Penn State quite as fondly. “Some in the Greek community saw Dr. Baker as a grumpy university official who was there to take the fun out of Greek life,” Wendkos said. In the 2010 “Death To Greek Life” video, IFC and Panhellenic members lamented the administration’s crack down on Greek parties.
There were a number of scandals involving IFC and Panhellenic chapters during the past eight years, including the revelation of an obscene Facebook page run by the the brothers of Kappa Delta Rho. The incident led to the closure of KDR, aided in a national discussion on whether fraternities need to be abolished, and prompted the university to create a task force to determine if Greek life is even viable. In regard to these scandals, Wendkos asserted to Onward State that it would be “ludicrous [to assume] that [Dr. Baker] could have stopped these things from happening.”
The Greek community has also seen a waning influence on the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon. “They’re concerned about that. I think they feel like they should contribute more,” Baker told the The Daily Collegian in 2009. The IFC and Panhellenic Council lost their Associate Vice President seats on the THON Overall Committee in 2009, and just last month THON removed “IFC/Panhellenic” from its mission statement.
Despite repeated requests, Dr. Baker has not responded to Onward State to be interviewed for this story.
Meanwhile, Brigette Lajoie, President of the WVU Panhellenic Executive Council, is “very excited” for Dr. Baker’s arrival. “[W]e have had many changes occur to coincide with the culture change occurring at WVU in the past year or so. I hope that Dr. Baker is eager to learn about these changes and has some insight as to how to move forward to continue implementing goals and missions of the Panhellenic council and the overall Greek community. It is important that we create a sustainable future for Greek life on [West Virginia’s] campus, and I believe that with Dr. Baker’s experience on Penn State’s campus, he will be able to help us do so.”
Ultimately, Wendkos said Dr. Baker made Greek life and Greek pride better at Penn State by “putting the faith in the leaders of the community, which was something we previously didn’t have.” He offered IFC leaders guidance and didn’t treat the IFC as “his puppet.”
“Dr. Baker is one of the friendliest and kindest people I’ve ever met,” Wendkos remarked. “Despite having arguably the toughest and most thankless job at Penn State, he came to work every single day with a smile on his face and treated everyone around him with the utmost respect.”