Press Release: January 10, 2017
Media Contact: 
Rob Levin, rlevin@coa.edu, 207-664-3702
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COA Professor Named to Permanent Faculty

BAR HARBOR — Performing arts professor Jodi Baker has been named a permanent faculty member at College of the Atlantic.

The school has received two $500,000 anonymous donations toward an endowed performing arts chair, which Baker will fill once fundraising is complete. School officials are currently seeking donations for the final $250,000 to complete the chair.

“The performing arts investigate the complexities of human behavior through art and action and, on a very practical note, they also cultivate cooperation — these are the very ideals on which College of the Atlantic was founded,” said COA President Darron Collins ’92. “I can think of no one more brilliant to lead our students through this investigation than Jodi Baker. Her great enthusiasm, experience, humor, and intellect make Jodi the perfect person for the endeavor.”

The performing arts chair will be the fourteenth faculty position endowed by the college, in areas such as earth sciences, literature and women’s studies, visual arts, and sustainable business. Endowing a position ensures the inclusion of that academic discipline at COA in perpetuity, while also adding to the economic wellbeing of the college, said COA Dean of Institutional Advancement Lynn Boulger.

“We are so grateful to those families, individuals, and foundations who have donated to endowed funds at COA,” Boulger said. “Endowments provide a steady and predictable source of operating revenue on which we can build and enhance our academic programs.”

Originally from Utah, Baker began her career with the Denver Center Theatre Company and subsequently worked as an actor in New York, Los Angeles and regional theatres across the country. She has studied in England and the U.S. with members of The National Theatre of Great Britain and The Royal Shakespeare Company and her work has been significantly influenced by experiences training with members of Double Edge Theatre and Rena Mirecka, a founding member of Grotowski’s Laboratory Theatre.

Baker, who holds an M.F.A. in acting from the National Theatre Conservatory, has taught full-time at COA for five years. Previously, theater was taught at the school by Lucy Bell Sellers for twenty-three years before her retirement.

“I feel very lucky and very grateful,” Baker said. “When I heard the news I was honestly, really moved. It’s kind of extraordinary for someone to invest so significantly in performance study and to have that happen in the context of this particular college after having grown to love my work here so much – well, it’s wonderful.”

While COA faculty do not expect a significant portion of their student body to go on to be professional actors, the performing arts is seen as an essential part of the school’s interdisciplinary curriculum, providing opportunities for students to develop important life skills like communication, collaboration, creativity, planning, and teamwork, said COA film professor Nancy Andrews.

“The performing arts nurture a collective focus and empathy – forces that fuel cultural change and social action. Theatre is one of the most trans-disciplinary of art forms as it calls upon a wide variety of skills and processes, demanding extraordinarily high levels of creative collaboration across a broad spectrum of fields,” Andrews said.

College of the Atlantic was the first college in the U.S. to focus on the relationship between humans and the environment. In 2016, both The Princeton Review and the Sierra Club named College of the Atlantic the #1 Green College in the United States. The intentionally small school of 350 students and 35 faculty members offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in human ecology – the study of how humans interact with our natural, social and technological environments. Each student develops their own course of study in human ecology, collaborating and innovating across multiple disciplines.


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