Simon Strousse Baker
|Simon Strousse Baker|
|Sixth President of Washington & Jefferson College|
|Term||March 29, 1922 – May 13, 1931|
|Predecessor||Samuel Charles Black|
|Successor||Ralph Cooper Hutchinson|
|Born||July 11, 1866
Amwell Township, Pennsylvania
|Died||October 10, 1932
|Alma mater||Washington & Jefferson College
University of Pittsburgh
Baker, the great-great-grandson of Dr. Thaddeus Dod, the founder of Washington Academy, was born in Amwell Township, Pennsylvania on July 11, 1866. In 1892, he graduated from Washington & Jefferson College, where he played football and was a member of Phi Delta Theta. He earned a Master's degree from W&J in 1912 and a Doctor of Laws degree from University of Pittsburgh in 1922. He enjoyed playing golf, taking long walks, and reading Greek, Roman and Early American history. He frequented "many a smart Pittsburgh club" and often took his wife to opera or theatre shows in Pittsburgh.
He worked for 25 years as an associate superintendent of Pittsburgh's schools. Baker served as acting president of Washington & Jefferson following the death of Dr. Black, and he was elected president in his own right on January 26, 1922. He was inaugurated on March 29, 1922. During his tenure, the college physical plant of the college underwent extensive renovation and modernization. Modern business methods were adopted and the endowment grew considerably. Also, the college experienced advances in academics.
He was sympathetic and well liked by the college's trustees and by "many a townsman." However, the student body felt that Baker was "autocratic" and held an "unfriendly attitude toward the student body as individuals." Specifically, students objected to his policies regarding campus garb and athletics. Baker defended himself, saying that the perceived ill-will towards students was unintentional and a misunderstanding. Nonetheless, the student body held a strike and general walkout on March 18, 1931.
Baker had hoped to complete his plans to build a Moffat Memorial building, a chemistry building, and a stadium before retiring. But, in light of the strike, he resigned on April 23, 1931, for health reasons and for "the good of the College." Baker had been in ill health since undergoing a serious operation in 1930. His health and temperament never recovered from the death of his only son, Lieut. Edward David Baker, an aviator who was shot down in France in 1918. The trustees accepted his resignation on May 13, 1931.
- "Simon Strousse Baker (1922-1931)". U. Grant Miller Library Digital Archives. Washington & Jefferson College. 2003-09-04.
- "Strike Won". Time Magazine (Time Inc.). 1931-05-25.
- Navarro Abad, Jay-Raymond (2002). "Prominent Alumni by Chapter". Prominent Alumni of Phi Delta Theta. Archived from the original on 2011-06-09. Retrieved 2011-06-09.
- "W. & J.'s Hutchison". Time Magazine (Time Inc.). 1932-04-11.
- "S.S. BAKER A SUICIDE FROM PISTOL SHOT; Missing Ex-President of W. & J. Killed Himself in a Field Near the College. SCENES OF HAPPIER TIMES Seized by Melancholy, He Had Failed to Return From Stroll Near His Pittsburgh Home.". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). 1932-10-12.
Samuel Charles Black
|President of Washington and Jefferson College
Ralph Cooper Hutchinson