Former Cal Poly president Warren Baker dead at 84

October 8, 2022


Former Cal Poly President Warren Baker, who led the university for three decades, has died. He was 84 years old.

Baker passed away on Friday.

Baker retired in 2010, after 31 years at the helm. He was Cal Poly’s eighth president.

“The Cal Poly community has lost a true champion of Learn by Doing and a leader who helped architect what our university is today — a campus in high demand among California’s and the nation’s best and brightest students and a producer of thousands of Day-One-ready graduates poised to address the world’s most pressing problems,” said Cal Poly President Jeffrey D. Armstrong. “While we are tremendously saddened by the passing of Warren Baker, we are so grateful for the 31 years of leadership he provided to Cal Poly.”

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Okay, Warren Baker was no Julian A. McPhee, but he preserved Cal Poly’s positive reputation and generally enhanced it. But to me he will always be the son-in-law of Dr. Matthew A. Fitzsimons, a great man and a great historian.

Here’s a far better obituary of Dr. Baker:

It rightly points out his ability to bring in financial backers for the university, including multi-billionaires such as Dean Spanos and Chris Cohan.

During his tenure, “Baker oversaw approximately $1 billion in new facilities and renovations that transformed the physical campus and made Cal Poly an institution in which current students, their parents, alumni and benefactors took immense pride.”

Speculation about his wife or the Smart investigation are simply hearsay. The man had a long list of accomplishments as Cal Poly’s president.

Bakers legacy will always be that he pressured the university to keep the Kristen smart murder hidden, didn’t want the publicity and helped stall the investigation.

As opposed to his predecessor, Dr. Baker was incredibly aloof. He drove from the president’s house to the admin building while Dr. Kennedy would greet students on his 7am walk to work. His wife was a notorious alcoholic who looted various funds to fuel parties.

RIP, President Baker. Cal Poly was often listed in the top 100 of colleges and universities in the nation under his tenure.