Remembering sociology professor Richard Baker

Emeritus Professor Richard Baker who taught in the Department of Sociology from 1973 until his retirement in 2006, died in November at the age of 78.

Baker’s career was distinguished by his commitment to human rights and social justice. He worked to support Idaho’s minority populations and helped establish academic programs, conferences and scholarships for Mexican-American students. Baker studied the lives of Idaho’s migrant farmworkers and advocated for Idaho’s Latino community. He received numerous awards, including from the Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs, the Larry Selland Humanitarian Award, the Boise State University Distinguished Service Award and the award for outstanding contributions to the cause of Latino students from the Organizacion de Estudiantes Latino-Americanos.

Baker’s advocacy was informed by years of research that culminated in the publication of two books, “Los Dos Mundos” and “Mexican American Students: A Study of Educationally Discounted Youth.” He received two National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships, one at the University of Chicago and another at the University of Southern California, as well as a Fulbright award to Bulgaria and Romania.

Baker was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and grew up in Sinclair, Wyoming. He studied at Northwest College and the University of Wyoming, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in education and a master’s degree in sociology. He then attended Washington State University where he a doctorate in sociology.

Baker was an avid outdoorsman, reader and traveler.