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Valued Alumna to Receive 2020 Presidential Medal

First awarded in 2019, the Ithaca College Presidential Medal was created as a way to honor an individual or a group whose significant contributions better our Ithaca College community and better our world. The recipient must capture the spirit of Ithaca College by demonstrating a deep dedication to the importance of intellectual growth; a commitment to the evolution of character, identity, and spirit; and a strong sense of service and sustainability that is greater than oneself.

The Ithaca College Presidential Medal is a replica of the medallion given to graduating IC students at Commencement to commemorate and forever connect to this celebratory occasion and this tremendous honor.

Beverly Baker ’54

Beverly Baker

Beverly Baker ’54 encompasses all of the above—and much more. One of just 11 radio-television majors in her graduating class, she worked for nearly two decades at radio stations in Ithaca, Syracuse, and New York City. She launched her second career after returning to Ithaca and opening Baker Travel in 1973. The travel agency was the first business in Ithaca with a smokefree office, and from the beginning offered job sharing and flextime—concepts way ahead of their time. As the travel industry evolved over the years, so did Baker Travel, becoming one of the first independent retail agencies without a storefront. With a touch both personal and professional, she has handled travel arrangements for countless IC students, faculty, and staff.

But it is outside of business hours that Baker has so greatly demonstrated her commitment to her community. A partial listing of her leadership roles includes service on the boards of directors of Historic Ithaca, the Racker Center, the Baden-Powell Council of the Boy Scouts of America, and the Tompkins County Tourism Board. She has served as president of the Friends of Ithaca College and is a trustee emeritus at Tompkins Cortland Community College, where she established a nursing scholarship and the Helping Hands Fund, which awards grants to students in need. She was one of the first women to join the Ithaca Rotary Club, serving as its president in 2004–5.

A grateful community has recognized Baker for her many contributions. Among other honors, she has received the Tompkins Trust Company’s Award for Excellence; Tompkins County Distinguished Citizen Award; life membership in the Chamber of Commerce; and the Others Award, the highest civilian award bestowed by the Salvation Army. In 2004 she helped to establish the Women’s Fund Endowment at the Community Foundation of Tompkins County, which subsequently recognizes a special group of donors each year as members of the Beverly Baker Society.

One of Baker’s lasting legacies at Ithaca College is the annual Founder’s Day Concert in the Park. In 1992, the celebration of the college’s centennial year included a concert in DeWitt Park. Recalling her own memories of growing up to performances there by IC students and faculty when the campus was located downtown, Baker decided it should become a new tradition. So she endowed the concert series to continue in perpetuity, cementing the rich connections between the college and the Ithaca community.

On the occasion of her 50th reunion, she established the Beverly Baker ’54 Scholarship Fund, with a scholarship awarded annually to a student with demonstrated financial need. In addition, her friend and fellow alumnus Fred Laub ’71 established in her honor the Beverly Baker ’54 School of Music Ensemble Travel Fund, which provides annual support for ensembles to perform, compete, and participate in workshops, clinics, and presentations around the country and abroad.

In 1995, Baker was honored with the Edgar “Dusty” Bredbenner Jr. ’50 Distinguished Alumni Award, which is given to graduates who have demonstrated outstanding loyalty and service to Ithaca College over a long period, and is the highest award the alumni association presents.