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Governor awards Sagamore to local Hoosier

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James K. Baker
James K. Baker

Gov. Mike Pence took time during a visit to the Columbus area Friday to visit with and honor James K. Baker, former chairman of Arvin Industries.

Pence stopped by the Silver Oaks Health Campus, where Baker is now a patient, to present him with the Sagamore of the Wabash award.

“Jim Baker is a selfless, generous Hoosier who has devoted his life to improving educational opportunities for kids throughout our state and nation,” Pence said. “I am honored to be able to present this true Hoosier role model with a Sagamore of the Wabash, and I thank him on behalf of the people of Indiana for his dedication to this important cause.”

Baker has been an education advocate for decades. He led a capital campaign for Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus in the early 1980s and is credited with raising funds needed to secure and update a permanent IUPUC campus.

Baker also helped lead a public-school reform effort as vice chairman of the Washington-based New American Schools initiative, which aimed to increase collaboration between university presidents and corporate executives to improve education in America. He later served the education community as a three-year trustee of DePauw University in Greencastle.

In 2012, Baker earned the IUPUC’s James G. Simms Leadership Award as well as a Tindley Trailblazer Award from the Charles A. Tindley Accelerated School in Indianapolis for his leadership in education and commitment to students.

He retired as chairman of the Columbus-based Arvin Industries in 1998 after a career spanning 43 years. Two years after his retirement, the company was merged with Meritor Inc.

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