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John Baker, MS, DVM, PhD

2019 Distinguished Alumni: John Baker, MS, DVM, PhD

For his impact in the field of bovine respiratory disease, his mentorship as a clinician and educator, and his outstanding record of leadership in academia, we are pleased to recognize Dr. John Baker as a 2019 Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. John Baker completed his BS (1973), MS (1975), and DVM (1980) from The Ohio State University. He then completed an internship in Large Animal Medicine and Surgery, a residency in Large Animal Medicine, and PhD (1984) at the University of Minnesota. John begin his faculty career at Michigan State University and rose through the ranks to professor. 

As a clinician researcher, John gained a national reputation as a scholar and thought leader through his groundbreaking research focused on viral agents of bovine respiratory disease that led to improvements in animal health and producer profitability. John has been an outstanding teacher and mentor for veterinary and graduate students as well as interns and residents. He is well known for his excellence as a clinical and teaching of large animal clinical sciences. He has served as a trusted and valued advisor to policy makers, practitioners, producers, and agriculturalists. 

John served impactfully in several key administrative roles. During his service as Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies at Michigan State’s College of Veterinary Medicine (MSU CVM), the amount of research funding nearly doubled and he authored the first successfully funded Merck-Merial, NIH T-35 and NIH T-32 training grants supporting summer research experiences and DVM/PhD students, igniting many careers in animal health and biomedical research. John was then appointed as Acting Director and then Associate Director of MSU AgBioResearch (previously Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station) where he supported innovative research across MSU and the state of Michigan impacting food, energy and the environment. 

In 2014, Dr. Baker was named Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine bringing his humility, down to earth style, and sense of humor to the dean’s office and the culture of the college. During his tenure, he transformed the College, re-establishing the MSU CVM as a national leader in veterinary medical education, service, and research. He brought special attention to curricular redesign, strategic guidance, and rebuilding key collaborations across the campus and state of Michigan. 

At a time when tuition was rising rapidly and consequently, student debt was reaching dangerous levels, John initiated a conversation about student debt called “Fix the Debt” that was national in scope and it took on many sensitive topics. During his time as Dean, he increased scholarship funding nearly 3-fold, increasing scholarship support to 10% of the total tuition bill, and led the college to its most successful fund-raising drive in the 100-year history of the college increasing its ability to have impact on the mission to Learn, Heal, Discover, and Protect.