Dr. Warren J. Baker was president at Cal Poly for 31 years,
retiring in 2010. He has served in various capacities as teacher,
researcher, engineering practitioner and university administrator
for more than 40 years.
Under Baker’s leadership, Cal Poly continued its century-long tradition of practical, hands-on teaching programs in applied technical and professional fields. Cal Poly has expanded facilities for teaching and research necessary to meet the needs of students in an increasingly complex world of technology. In addition, he emphasized the importance of the arts, humanities, and social sciences in a polytechnic university and encouraged the expansion of opportunities for students in these areas.
Early on Baker faced issues of inequity between the men’s and women’s sports. Using Title IX as a guide, he instituted scholarships for women and worked with the Cal Poly Foundation to subsidize student housing for athletes to live on campus in the regular residence halls and closed the athletics-only men’s residence halls. He also had the locker room facilities renovated to establish better equity between men’s and women’s sports.
Baker worked to create a partnership with the students to support athletic funding and engaged the students to help determine the nature of athletics at Cal Poly. Through the development of a partnership with students, Baker along with Ken Walker engaged the students to make the case for moving to Division I and competition with universities that fit Cal Poly better and were of more interest to the student body.
Baker also led the process to gain membership in the Big West Conference and chaired the Board of Directors of the Big West a few years after Cal Poly was accepted into the conference. He also initiated the renovation and expansion of Mustang Stadium and solicited the two lead gifts for a total of $16 million, leading to the renaming of the facility to Alex G. Spanos Stadium.
Baker fostered the development of Mustang Memorial Plaza as part of the renovation and hosted the families and survivors of the 1960 plane crash for a dedication day on campus in 2006 to create a permanent tribute to the 1960 football team.