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Cooper takes over as Baker pres

By Jocelyn Wright     10/7/10 7:00pm

Baker College junior Christine Cooper took over as Baker president Wednesday. Former president Megan McSpedon stepped down a week ago citing personal reasons. As president, Cooper hopes to continue helping Baker students get used to their new building, improve interactions between freshmen and upperclassmen and rewrite the bylaws and constitution.

When McSpedon, a Baker senior, announced she was stepping down, the Baker government had two days to appoint an interim president who would become president if nobody else petitioned to run in the elections, Cooper said.

"I felt like I had the time and experience to give it my all," Cooper said.

Cooper has been actively involved in Baker government since her freshman year, first as social chair, then educational vice president and, most recently, executive vice president.

After nobody else submitted their intent to run by Tuesday, Cooper became president. Cooper said she was enjoying her new duties so far.

"It's definitely a steep learning curve because everyone else who is a president has been doing it for a few months and knows what current issues are, whereas I was thrown into the mix this week," Cooper said. "But everything is going well so far."

Cooper said the other college presidents and McSpedon have been instrumental in helping her transition into her new position.

"All the other presidents are super friendly in helping me figure out what's going on and Megan's been really helpful with transitioning and helping me not feel lost," Cooper said.

McSpedon said she was confident in the future of Baker's government due to its system of lateral leadership - the idea that their community is stronger if everyone, including those not directly involved in college government, has the opportunity to be a leader.

"Ideally, everyone is equally aware of what's happening and on Cabinet everyone's equally involved in decisions," McSpedon said. "We try to involve the community [in all decisions] so my stepping down doesn't really affect things that much."

Associate Dean of Undergraduates Matthew Taylor said he was also confident that Baker would continue moving in a positive direction because of their strong, well-defined government and culture.

"The way the Baker presidents make decisions has been really consistent over the past five years," Taylor said. "This shows they have a healthy, well-governed community. Whatever the change might be, they will handle it."

McSpedon has been involved in Baker government since her freshman year as social chair, part of the committee on renovating Baker and establishing the sister college relationship with Duncan College and coordinating Duncan's first Orientation Week. She said she was most proud of her role in facilitating the Baker-Duncan relationship over the past year. She coordinated O-Week along with Clare Shorall (Duncan '10) and Baker senior Shea Kearney, and spent the last year helping Duncan form its own community.

"We were really trying to facilitate a year where Duncan was supported and the freshmen were able to create their own community while also meeting the needs of Baker and making sure everyone was happy there," McSpedon said. "I'm really proud of what we did there."

Taylor said he was impressed by McSpedon's abilities to balance her devotion to Baker and the needs of Duncan.

"That role really sums up her service to campus more than anything," Taylor said. "It took courage and community-mindedness to step away from Baker. It was a huge task that was unknown in many ways and she really devoted herself to it."

McSpedon said she was also proud of the ease with which the Baker community transfered to their new building.

"I'm really proud of Baker with all the transition that we've had this year - RAs, masters, now me - but I think that the way we've handled all this transition really shows that our core values are important; this idea that underclassmen are just as important as upperclassmen and given chances to lead," McSpedon said. "Watching the way this year has played out I couldn't be more proud of the way we've tried to do that."

McSpedon's influence and leadership during her time as president were clear, Taylor said.

"She brought experience and the previous relationships she had built contributed positively to how well [the current] group [of presidents] is working," Taylor said.

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