Kansas State University honors Kassebaum Baker with honorary doctorate
Wednesday, April 22, 2015
MANHATTAN — A native Kansan and former U.S. senator for nearly two decades will receive an honorary doctorate from Kansas State University.
Nancy Kassebaum Baker will be recognized with the honorary doctorate degree at the Graduate School's commencement ceremony at 1 p.m. Friday, May 15, in Bramlage Coliseum. She also will serve as the commencement speaker.
The awarding of the honorary doctorate follows the approval by the Kansas Board of Regents. It is one of the highest honors the university can give.
"Nancy Kassebaum Baker's nearly two decades of leadership as a U.S. senator are evidence of her dedication to service and diplomacy," said Kirk Schulz, university president. "We want to honor her distinguished career. Through scholarships and the Landon Lecture Series, Kassebaum Baker and her family have maintained strong ties with Kansas State University. Their support, leadership and example of service play an essential role in helping Kansas State University become a Top 50 public research university by 2025."
Kassebaum Baker graduated from Topeka High School. In 1954, she received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Kansas. In 1956, she earned a Master of Arts in diplomatic history from the University of Michigan. Her ties to Kansas State University date from 1966 when the Landon Lecture Series on Public Issues was inaugurated as a tribute to her father, former Kansas Gov. Alfred Landon. Her four children are Wildcats and graduated in the 1980s.
She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1978. During her tenure she served on the Foreign Relations Committee, the Budget Committee, the Commerce Committee, and Labor and Human Resources Committee. In 1996 she declined to run for a fourth term. She later served on several nonprofit boards, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Kaiser Family Foundation. She is past chair of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health and the George C. Marshall Foundation. She helped secure the acquisition of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in 1996-2004.
In 1996, she married Howard Baker, former U.S. senator from Tennessee and Senate majority leader, who also served as chief of staff under President Reagan. President George Bush appointed Baker to serve as U.S. ambassador to Japan, and from 2001-2005 the Bakers lived in Tokyo, Japan. Currently, Kassebaum Baker lives on her farm in Morris County, Kansas.
To honor Kassebaum Baker's career, Kansas State University offers the Kassebaum Scholarship to recognize students who aspire to careers in public service. Up to five students receive this award annually.