New York, New York – The evening of Saturday, January 12, at the University Club of New York, William C. “Bill” Baker, Colgate, ’70 was awarded the 2012 Raymond L. Gardner, “Phi of the Year” Award by Phi Delta Theta Fraternity. Brother Baker received the award for his lifetime service and dedication to his alma mater, Colgate University, the New York Zeta Chapter of Phi Delta Theta, and his community, New York City. He received the award in the presence of over 100 fellow Phis and undergraduates at the 7th Annual New York Zeta of Phi Delta Theta Career Night and Banquet. The award was presented by Chris Brussalis, General Council representative of Phi Delta Theta, with Douglas Sweeney, Director of Development, Phi Delta Theta Foundation, also in attendance.
Bill Baker has played an instrumental role in the success of his university, fraternity chapter, and community. Since being initiated into the New York Zeta Chapter on April 10, 1967, Brother Baker has lived out the three cardinal principles of Phi Delta Theta in real and personal ways. After graduation from Colgate University in 1970 and service in the US Army (1971-1973), Brother Baker joined his family footwear business, Baker-Benjes (which later become Ralph Lauren Footwear). Mr. Baker managed the successful growth of the company as Chairman, CFO, and COO until his retirement in 1996. A long-time supporter of Colgate University and the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity at Colgate, Brother Baker currently is chairman of the New York Zeta of Phi Delta Theta Foundation and Scholarship Board, which provide scholarships that promote ideals of strong leadership and high scholastic achievement, and insures that members of the chapter who exhibit those qualities and provide outstanding leadership to the chapter, campus and community will be rewarded every year. In 2005 he donated the flagpole to the chapter house which he dedicated to Winnie McKay (beloved House Chef) and those lost in the Global War on Terrorism.
An excerpt from the nomination states, “Bill has dedicated his life to philanthropy and scholarship. He is an active alumnus both as a Colgate Graduate and a Phi Delt Man to the fullest extent, actively working with the university to help any undergraduate student in need, but especially Phi’s. He lives out the creed “We Enjoy Life by the Help and Society of Others” and that “one man is no man”, and has worked to ensure that the spirit of fraternity is lived out by opening his wallet, his heart, his soul, and his home to others”
Within his Colgate community, he is a member of the Colgate University President’s Club and serves on its nominating committee. He established an endowed scholarship that goes toward a New York Zeta member and donated the West Entrance Foyer of Little Hall (arts building) in 1997.
Mr. Baker serves on the Board of Directors for The Glaucoma Foundation. He currently lives in New York City and serves as president of his co-op apartment building.