Biola Grieves Passing of Professor Loren Baker

Art department chair devoted more than 35 years to teaching students

Nov. 26, 2013 By Jason Newell

Loren Baker, the chair of Biola University’s art department, passed away unexpectedly at home over the weekend, university leaders announced Tuesday. The beloved professor, who devoted more than 35 years of his life to teaching art to Christian college students across the nation, was 64.

“This is a difficult time for our community as we reflect on the life and influence of Professor Baker,” Biola President Barry H. Corey said Tuesday. “Loren was a dear friend and a person of insight and faith. He will be sorely missed. Please pray for his family, his faculty peers, his students and his countless friends and associates within Biola and beyond that the Lord would be their comfort and their hope.”

Baker, who taught at Biola since 2004, was an accomplished sculptor and assemblage artist who devoted much of his life to Christian higher education. In addition to his decade of teaching and departmental leadership at Biola, Baker spent 24 years as a professor and chair at Roberts Wesleyan College in New York. He also taught briefly at Asbury University.

Baker was deeply admired at Biola, where he had strong ties going back decades. In 1972, he had the distinction of being one of three students in the Biola art department’s first graduating class. He later taught at Biola from 1977 to 1979, while completing a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, which he earned in 1978.

During his tenure at Biola from 2004 to 2013, he taught numerous classes and was instrumental in instituting the annual Art Interterm Study Tour, an 18-day tour of the art and architecture in Italy, France and Spain.

Baker was a visionary who brought strong leadership to Biola’s art department, said David Nystrom, provost and senior vice president.

“He had a vision for the role of the arts within the human experience and at Biola, a vision that was capacious and deeply Christian,” Nystrom said. “The strength and prominence of the arts at Biola is due in no small measure to his leadership.”

Friends and colleagues described Baker as a man with a warm smile, gentle manner, humble spirit of service and robust faith.

“He deeply loved and yearned for God’s heart, the Spirit’s leading and Christ’s compassion,” said Dan Callis, an art professor at Biola since 1987. “As a department chair his leadership was relentless as he advocated for his faculty and his students. From a place of loving trust and respect he created a learning environment that is dynamic and thriving: simultaneously rigorous and full of delight and laughter. As a friend he was a deep feeling man with a compassionate heart: generous with his time, with his prayers and with his love for beauty. He will be deeply, deeply missed.”

In a 2009 devotional article for Biola Magazine, Baker wrote about the strong sense of community within Biola’s art department, and the encouragement and grace that he experienced through his interaction with students.

“After leaving Biola, many of our graduates stay in contact, and in the process our roles gradually change,” he wrote. “We are no longer their professors; we become their friends. They join us in an extended community of Christian artists where there is fellowship and encouragement — sharing our lives, our hopes, our fears, and the joys and the sorrows that are a part of life. Sometimes I forget just how much of a blessing this can be.”

Baker received numerous awards and honors throughout his career, including the 2011 Robert B. Fischer Faculty Award for Excellence from Biola University and a 1993 Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA) Award of Excellence. He was a member of CIVA and the College Arts Association (CAA), and also served for the past decade as a consultant for the National Association of Schools of Art and Design, the official accreditation agency for art departments and schools throughout North America.

Loren Baker's Memorial Service will be held in Lansing Recital Hall, Crowell Conservatory of Music on Biola's Campus on Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 10:30 a.m. Light lunch to follow.

 

Comments

  • Rev. Megan A. Hoose Nov. 26, 2013 at 1:18 PM

    Mr. Baker will be sorely missed by his Rochester, NY and Roberts Wesleyan friends and family as well.

  • Dr. Susanne Mohnkern Nov. 26, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Loren was a faculty colleague for over 20 years at Roberts Wesleyan College. I enjoyed our association very much and am saddened by his passing.

  • Pete C. Menjares, Ph.D. Nov. 26, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    I am deeply saddened at the passing of Loren Baker. Loren was a good friend and colleague while I was at Biola. He was instrumental in furthering my own understanding and appreciation of art and creativity in the life of the Christian and Christian higher education context. He was also a deeply spiritual man who prayed often for me and with me. He will be missed.

  • Maggie Hazen Nov. 26, 2013 at 3:11 PM

    I love you Loren. Your memory will live on with me.

  • Dr. Jeffrey Altman Nov. 26, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    I am so grieved at Loren's passing. He was a wonderful friend and colleague at Roberts Weslayan College. Blessings to all of you there who knew him; may God's grace and presence sustain you in the days to come.

  • Cheryl Sorce Nov. 26, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    My family and I are very saddened to hear this very sad news. He was a very special man and I enjoyed working with him. Our thoughts and prayers are wIth his family.

  • Leah Snyder Nov. 26, 2013 at 3:40 PM

    As secretary in Fine Arts & Music at Roberts Wesleyan College, Loren became a dear friend to me. Sorry to hear the sad news.

  • Rev. Alex Burgess Nov. 26, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    I took only one art history class with Dr Baker at RWC, but that experience gave me a love for art that has never waned. I'm so sorry to hear about his passing, but it is comforting to reflect on how God used him to bless so many lives.

  • Christy Valsente Nov. 26, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    Mr. Baker was a favorite professor of mine at Roberts. He was so funny and dry witted... He was a beloved part of my education and my career at Roberts. He will always be in my heart.

  • Linda Kurtz Hoffman Nov. 26, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    What a kind and good man! And what sad news! Though I am sure there is great celebration in Heaven. Loren was a wonderful colleague during his many years at Roberts. I'm thankful to have known him and worked with him! God's peace and comfort to family and friends

  • Roger Feldman Nov. 26, 2013 at 6:58 PM

    I am deeply saddened and moved by Loren's passing. His spiritual depth, wholehearted commitment to the power of the arts as an integral connection to culture, and his own integrity will continue to inspire those who knew him personally. Wise on so many levels. I mourn with the rest of the Biola and RW communities. What a privilege to have called him friend.

  • Bethany Wray Nov. 26, 2013 at 7:01 PM

    I owe much to faculty members such as Loren for the amazing education I received from Biola's art department. Loren was such a gracious and encouraging person. This news is just heartbreaking. My prayers go out to friends and family.

  • Xiomara Restivo Nov. 26, 2013 at 8:06 PM

    I have to say thank you to Loren one more time. He was a truly kind person, so encouraging to all he met. I am blessed to have know him and had him as a professor and chair. I know he will be greatly missed at Biola.

  • Greer Bascom Nov. 26, 2013 at 8:49 PM

    I have known Loren since we were fellow art majors, at Biola, in the late 60s and early 70s. We spent a lot of time together on art projects. No one could make me laugh like Loren could. He would have me in stitches as we worked on our projects together. He continued to be a dear friend to me, and to my husband, Ken. Loren put hours of love and tears into the Biola exhibit that he put together, honoring Ken, after his death in 2012. His mom, such a sweet woman, and his son Jonathan, I know, will miss their son and dad so much. Thank you, Loren! I love you, and I am so thankful you have been my friend, especially over this last year and a half. Well done, thou good and faithful servant.......

  • Bonnie Norlander Nov. 27, 2013 at 6:44 AM

    For my part, I knew him as a strong and humble leader. May God's peace be with all who remain.

  • Mary Flaherty Nov. 27, 2013 at 7:21 AM

    I was deeply saddened to hear the news of Loren's passing. He was a wonderful man who was loved by so many here at RWC. Prayers for Loren's family and the Biola community.

  • Joy Shewan Nov. 27, 2013 at 7:41 AM

    Loren was a dear friend to the Shewan Family. We supped and fellow-shipped with him many times over the many years he was at Roberts. He was a gentle, kind, wise, humble, and devoted man of God. He will be greatly missed by our entire family.

  • Judson Decker Nov. 27, 2013 at 8:02 AM

    Kindness, welcome, humility, good-heartedness, gracious friendship---these are only a few of the words evoked by the memory of Loren Baker. I am grateful to have known this man, through whom the encouraging, "Come on in, everything is eternally all right" spirit of the Savior Jesus shone. Rest in peace and in joy, Loren.

  • Theodore Prescott Nov. 27, 2013 at 9:38 AM

    I have known Loren, since he came as my replacement at Roberts Wesleyan College, some 33 years ago. As I got to know him over the years, I was encouraged and challenged by his pursuit of God, of the good, and of the arts. He did that wiith rigor, but also a wonderful wry and self depricating humor that was infectious. May our sadness be leavened by your now complete joy Loren.

  • denise weyhrich Nov. 27, 2013 at 10:18 AM

    Oh Dear Heavenly Father cover Loren with your blessings as he so blessed us here on earth. We are shocked and broken hearted. Fill us with you hope, love and courage to carry on the way Loren did in loving. He was a soul mate and alway such a blessing to me in such a special relationship, some how we knew each other from the moment we met..IE if he is Barry's best friend, he had to be in incredible guy- and he was. Gosh this is hard, praise be to God for Loren.

  • Mike Carroll Nov. 27, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    As a teacher and an artist Loren was an inspiration. He went out of his way to help others. He gave me an opportunity to teach and I will always be thankful for what that opportunity and that friendship brought. Very sad...

  • Nate Morrison Nov. 27, 2013 at 11:47 AM

    He was a great professor to study under at Roberts Wesleyan. He loved his students and actively sought out our company and too include us in every event he could think of. He introduced me to the Renaissance and to France and Italy and to Paul McCartney's sister in law who was a jet-setting missionary as he called her to the artists of Florence. Although he did get us lost in the Paris subway for two hours. Such a great teacher and artist!

  • Rafe Payne, Ph. D., Emeritus Professor of Biology Nov. 27, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    I will always remember Loren as a colleague who championed the integration of Art into any and all other disciplines. His enthusiastic support of art students joining the Biola in Baja program where we paired art and biology students together to explore the variety of ways we "see" Creation. He was my friend, and I'll miss him.

  • Jared Garcia Nov. 27, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    Loren was the best professor I had at Biola. His love and care was formative in my time there. He will be missed greatly.

  • Melissa (Neault) Dunkelberg Nov. 27, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    I'm so sad to hear of professor Baker's passing. I had him for several of my art classes at Roberts Wesleyan and really enjoyed him! He will be missed very much!

  • Andrew Gioulis Nov. 27, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    I love his statement, "We are no longer their professors; we become their friends." This was so true of Loren as he had such a huge influence in my life, both during college and after. He motivated me to get my MFA and become a professor. I am thankful for all the great times we had. Professor, counselor, brother in Christ and friend, Loren we will miss you.

  • Bethany Welch Nov. 27, 2013 at 4:58 PM

    I owe him so much of how I see and understand the world. Grateful for his instruction, friendship, and witness to an authentic faith. My heart is sad. Grateful for every moment spent looking for his glasses and keys...moments graced with the same light and life we shared in Florence and on the streets of Paris. RIP.

  • Judith Mendelsohn Rood, Prof. of History Nov. 27, 2013 at 5:32 PM

    Dear colleagues, students, alumni, and family, I mourn with you all about our terrible loss. I will will miss Loren's gentle compassion and his fervent common sense. His devotion to mercy and beauty in the midst of brokenness helped to set Biola apart. He felt deeply and cared about us, he laughed at our foibles and aspired to lead us to the heights of our creativity possibilities as a community. His was not an easy journey: his honesty and love made our work together a blessing. Even as we grieve, I know that he is basking in the light of His beloved's glory.

  • Dr. Adam Gallagher Nov. 27, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    Loren truly pushed me to be more than I thought I could be as an artist, and as a Christian. He truly had love for his students, would go out of his way to help others, and his passion for teaching shined through in all he did. He will be truly missed here on Earth, but he is looking down on us from a much better place. So sad...Loren touched so many lives in so many ways. May The Lord give peace and comfort to all who came in contact with Loren.

  • Todd King Nov. 27, 2013 at 7:54 PM

    True to his statement of becoming friends after graduation, many of my fondest memories were after I had graduated from Roberts Wesleyan University. Loren pushed his students and collegues to be the best that they could be, and was never too busy to sit and have a heart to heart with his students. I wouldn't be who I am today or where I am today it wasn't for having Loren as a mentor and professor. I was so blessed to have the opportunity to call Loren a professor and a friend.

  • Cindy Lango Kay Nov. 27, 2013 at 8:14 PM

    Mr Baker was one of my favorite professors at RWC. I remember very vividly the day in ceramics class when he popped a piece of clay in his mouth...pretty sure he didn't really eat it..or did he? He was always willing to help...made learning interesting and was kind and caring. I gained a love of art history and learned so much that I have passed along to my students. Mr. Baker, you touched my life in which I am truly thankful. God blessed us!

  • Marsha Bolton Rivers Nov. 28, 2013 at 4:13 AM

    Whenever I think of Loren Baker, I think of this verse, which he once told me inspired his art: "And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands." And now, he who inspired so many to see the Lord's beauty, is in the Lord's hands. I am grateful to have glimpsed God's magnificence through his servant Loren Baker.

  • Dr David Barnes Nov. 28, 2013 at 3:27 PM

    We are saddened to learn of Lauren's passing! We shared many good times at Roberts Wesleyan especially in designing cross-cultural programs and taking students several years to Paris and London. We admired his abilty to integrate art with Christian faith and his thoughtful commitment to his students. We will miss him. David and Avis Barnes

  • Tonya L Sykes Cooper Nov. 28, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    It's funny how much a professor can impact your life. For me, Prof Baker influenced me at RWC over 20 years ago - to pursue a career in graphic design and more recently giving back through teaching studio art at our small Christian school. Prof Baker challenged me and pushed me to be better, not just with my talent but my whole life and Christian walk. Prof Baker's legacy will live on through so many of the lives he touched.

  • Michael Landrum Nov. 29, 2013 at 12:19 PM

    Having almost emerged from a state of utter denial, I'm coping with the magnitude of this loss in my life. Loren's friendship of over thirty years will continue to inspire and comfort me, even though I will not see him again in this earthly existence. What a blessing and encouragement to have known him so well and for so long. Rest in peace, dear soul.

  • Wayne Roosa Nov. 29, 2013 at 4:53 PM

    I was so saddened and shocked to hear of Loren's passing. I knew him as a professor at both Roberts Wesleyan and Biola. His artwork was always so engaging. And he was such a wonderful person to hang out with at conferences. His intelligence and giving spirit will be missed.

  • Timothy Bellavia Nov. 29, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Professor Baker was my guiding light at Roberts Wesleyan College and most importantly he instilled in me that I could achieve anything in life. I will miss you Professor Baker. RIP. Thanks for believing in me, giving guidance in college and most importantly visiting me in NYC when I was a "green" Pratt student. And telling me under no circumstance could I move back home. Ever Cindy Lango, I too remember Professor Baker eating a piece of clay in ceramics class at Roberts Wesleyan College in the spring of 1992.

  • Gail Buck Dec. 1, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    My heart mourns and my soul is saddened as I think about Loren's passing. In my short time at Biola, Loren became a true friend and colleague. He made me laugh when I didn't want to. My love and respect for him will not be forgotten. Make beautiful art in heaven Loren!

  • Dr. Karen J. Sangren Dec. 2, 2013 at 10:56 AM

    Our hearts are saddened by the news of Loren Baker's passing. Heaven is better...but how Loren will be missed. He was a wonderful inspiration and encouragement to those in CCCU art programs. Loren was always ready to help departments succeed in offering students high quality studies in art and design -- infused with faith. May God be with the Biola Art Department in these difficult days of loss.

  • Simon Njumbwa Dec. 2, 2013 at 10:58 AM

    I was in shock when I learned that Professor Loren Baker recently passed away. Shortly after I began teaching at Roberts Wesleyan College almost two decades ago, he embraced me as a colleague even though I was not a faculty member in the Fine Arts Department which he chaired. He made me feel at home on the RWC campus, a kind gesture which meant a lot to me as a newly-minted Ph.D. I was and still remain immensely grateful and indebted to him for his support, encouragement and friendship. Professor Baker was not only a committed and practising Christian but also a humble and jovial man. He was always willing to go out of his way to help others. I am blessed to have known him and although he has gone to a better place prepared for us all by the Lord, he will greatly be missed by those of us who had the unique privilege to know him and work with him. May God comfort his beloved family at this time of loss and surround them with His love. Adieu Loren.

  • Day Butcher Dec. 2, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    Loren went above and beyond the duties of a Professor - he truly tried to empower and inspire his students. I still smile to think of the phantom dogs barking during critiques and continually getting lost in Italy. I was blessed to be part of the art community at Roberts under his direction. Praying for the family, friends, and Biola community!

  • Ed Alvarez Dec. 4, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    We lost a great friend and are saddened by the loss. He was instrumental in helping me to get my degree here at Biola U through the Art Department. He will be deeply missed as a Administrator, Teacher, and Friend.

  • Mel Andrews Dec. 4, 2013 at 1:06 PM

    Seeing Loren when I visited Biola was always a highlight! He was always glad to see me. Always said I didn't visit enough, that I should drop by more often. He always made me feel welcome! I'll miss him!

  • Naomi Omaye Garwood Dec. 5, 2013 at 3:58 PM

    Having two daughters close in age to Jonathan, we had many conversations when our children were growing up. We talked while watching them take swimming lessons, or on campus. I remember how tirelessly Loren worked at Roberts and how people-oriented he was. What a loss here on the earth. What good conversations he must be having in heaven.

  • Murray Decker Dec. 5, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    Loren was always a voice of grace, compassion and empathy. Those days when I would unexpectedly meet him on the sidewalk as I walked across campus were always richer for his attentive and thoughtful presence. Even as my heart is deeply saddened by his passing, I smile when I think of the way he would laugh at his own gentle humor. We will miss you, good friend.

  • Karen L. Mulder, Ph.D. Dec. 12, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    Loren believed in the power of the arts to open the heart and soul, and he spent much of his life energy supporting this idea, building up the RW department with careful community building for so many years, and rejoining the Biola department just when it needed him. I look at the St. Ursula 'reliquary' he gifted me with, every day, and give thanks to God that Loren's work so often modeled the excellence, infinite creativity, and divine intelligence that speaks volumes into this world.

  • Angela Frusteri Dec. 22, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    Loren cared very much not just for the fine arts but for the students. He was a great and supportive professor. Biola will not be the same without Loren. It was an honor to have him as my professor.

  • Dr. June Hetzel Dec. 23, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Loren Baker was a an amazing colleague . . . kind and compassionate . . . a deeply spiritual man. I will always be indebted to him for helping our niece, who is also an artist, when she was at a crossroads in her graduate education. Loren, thank you for serving our students, faculty, and staff, with unswerving grace. You wil be great missed.

  • Roger Shaner Dec. 24, 2013 at 8:44 AM

    I came to Biola College in 1970 and was in the second class of graduating art majors in 1973 (all three of us!) I remember Loren more than any of the other students because of his effervescent spirit and enthusiasm for the subject. I'm sorry to hear of his passing and sure he touched many lives there at Biola.

  • Mark Wangerin Dec. 26, 2013 at 12:37 PM

    Although I only met him once, I remember him being a very nice man. I'm very sorry the the loss of this wonderful teacher.

  • Laurie (Sillick) Eisele Jan. 8, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    Loren was my teacher at Roberts as well as a good friend. Our kids went to prom together way back when... I have thought of him often over the years. May he rest in the peace of the Lord now.

  • Souly Sanasith Jan. 9, 2014 at 8:04 AM

    I was blessed to have Loren as my art professor at Roberts. Our prayers goes out to his family, friends, and Biola University community! God used him to bless so many lives. I will always be thankful for what Loren has taught me, as an artist and a person.

  • Pat Molnar & Steve Gallagher Jul. 22, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    Loren you stood next to Steven 42 years ago at our wedding and I will never forget the twinkle in your eyes. You introduced me to the love of my life and I will always love you for that. I will always remember the many memories and times we shared at Biola, you made it fun. Beloved friend we will miss you but we will see you again.

  • Ryan Olufson Jan. 20, 2015 at 6:35 PM

    My first day at Biola as a transfer student and new to the art program- Professor Loren Baker reminded our class that just like Abraham was called to a new place - we also were in a new place of adventure and blessing. Loren was a great encouragent that first year, and throughout my Biola experience. Thank you Loren for your example of following after Chriat and using your gifts for His kingdom.

  • Tim Boyd Mar. 28, 2015 at 1:59 PM

    I just found out about Loren's death. He was a dear friend during my time at Roberts Wesleyan- an accepting and wise confidante. We journeyed together to Romania one summer. He photo-documented the work of the mission there. What a wonderful companion. Always thinking about how to serve others. Life is so fragile. Looking forward to sharing more stories with him when I get to heaven..

  • Elaine (Wong) Choy Nov. 20, 2017 at 11:09 AM

    Loren, our days together working on the Chimes, hanging around the firing oven and just being a friend, were happy days and you will always be part of those memories. Aaron, Rand, Joan, and you-- we had so many days of laughing hysterically with you! I still have 2 of your ceramic pieces. And at the end of all things, we know we will be reunited with you again.

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