A career with the promise of a good salary is what motivated Wren Baker to attend college. Following his passion is what has made him one of the brightest young athletics administrators in the country and a trailblazer in several collegiate programs.
Baker came to Southeastern in 1996 as a computer science major in the honors program. During his junior year he was asked to sit in on a prospective student interview. The student’s answer to why she chose her area of study resonated with Baker. “She told the faculty member that she would love to be a teacher. You could hear the passion in her voice,” Baker described. “But since she knew it wouldn’t make much money, she chose to focus on finance.”
The faculty member wisely told her to follow her passion, instead of the money. “I had no idea what the impact was on her, but it had an impact on me,” Baker said. “A few weeks later, I changed my major to education and have never looked back.”
Baker earned his bachelor’s degree in education at Southeastern and holds a master’s degree in education leadership from Oklahoma State University. At Oklahoma State, Baker was operations assistant for the Cowboys' men's basketball program under legendary coach Eddie Sutton.
After graduating from college, he became principal and athletic director for Valliant Public Schools and at age 26, the youngest principal in Oklahoma. Baker was the first athletics director at Rogers State University in Claremore and the first men's basketball coach in the school’s history. He was the director of athletics for Northwest Missouri State and served as deputy director of athletics at the University of Memphis and the University of Missouri. Baker became the University of North Texas Vice President and Director of Athletics in 2016.
As a first-generation college student from Valliant, Oklahoma, Baker gravitated to what he heard would be a good career. At Southeastern he discovered success comes from passion. “I didn’t know which boxes to check to become a successful athletic administrator. But looking back on my education, it prepared me well for opportunities along that career path,” he mused. “Opportunities to learn and take increasing responsibility. I’m thankful for that preparation - there is nothing more rewarding than doing what I love every day.”