Noted Evangelical Scholar Hunter Baker Named NGU Provost
Posted on: October 19, 2023
Tigerville, SC (October 19, 2023) Noted evangelical scholar Hunter Baker has been named Provost and Dean of the University Faculty at North Greenville University, NGU President Dr. Gene C. Fant, Jr., announced to the university’s Board of Trustees on Thursday morning, October 19, during its fall meeting. Dr. Baker was introduced at the board’s plenary session on the Tigerville campus, and also met with NGU academic leadership Thursday afternoon.
Dr. Baker will begin his NGU tenure on January 1, 2024, moving from Union University in Jackson, TN. He joined the Tennessee Baptist institution’s faculty in 2010, and has served as Dean of Arts and Sciences and Professor of Political Science since 2018, coordinating the work of more than 90 faculty in 15 academic units. He previously served in administrative and faculty posts at Houston Baptist University (now Houston Christian University).
“Hunter Baker is uniquely called and gifted to serve in this critical role at North Greenville,” said President Fant. “NGU’s academic programs and their reputations are ascendant, with fresh recognitions of excellence each year. Dr. Baker will lead our community to higher levels of achievement and innovation, all within the context of our Christ-first mission and our desire to serve church and society.”
Baker will fill the senior administrative position previously held by Dr. Nathan A. Finn, who is director of NGU’s newly created Institute for Transformational Leadership. In his five-year tenure as provost, Finn oversaw creation of the university’s core curriculum and a restructuring of the academic administration, creating six colleges to streamline NGU’s academic operations.
“I am excited to come to South Carolina and join the work and Christian mission of North Greenville University,” Baker said. “A conversion to Christianity as a college freshman completely changed the trajectory of my life. I am so glad that something that began back in 1988 has brought me to NGU where I can unite my efforts with a faculty and staff committed to the spiritual, intellectual, and physical flourishing of students rooted in the Gospel.”
A prolific writer and speaker addressing Christianity, religious liberty and public affairs issues, Baker holds two earned doctorates. He completed a juris doctorate from the University of Houston Law Center in 2000, and earned a PhD degree in religion, politics, and society from Baylor University in 2007. He earned a bachelor of science degree from Florida State University in 1991, with a double major in economics and political science, and received a master of public administration degree from the University of Georgia in 1994.
Baker has written three books and contributed chapters to 20 other books. He has contributed numerous articles for journals in both academic and politics, culture, and religion arenas. He also is a regular columnist for World Opinions. He presented the President’s Distinguished Lecture at NGU during Dr. Fant’s inauguration week in April 2018. His lecture was titled “The Need for Christian Statesmanship.”
“We are thrilled that Dr. Baker has answered the call to serve at North Greenville in this strategic position,” said Dr. Brian Spearman, chair of NGU’s Board of Trustees. “His personal testimony of faith in Christ is truly amazing. His expertise in Christian higher is deep and beneficial. He has been a beacon of light in the academic world as well as very involved in the public policy world. I know that he will truly bring a level of excellence to North Greenville.”
Baker’s higher education career has included several roles involving administrative leadership. He was director of strategic planning at Houston Baptist University before being promoted to associate provost for academic affairs. He was responsible for writing the university’s mission, vision, and goals documents HBU’s long-range plan. At Union University, he was chair of the curriculum review process with the faculty curriculum committee and provided programming for institutional faculty development.
“Since academic success – both in student growth and achievement as well as in the hiring and retention of excellent Christian faculty – had flourished under the leadership of Dr. Nathan Finn as Provost, there was some trepidation as to finding his replacement when he decided to step away to pursue other leadership interests. Well, NGU responded with a touchdown,” said Dr. Andrew Calcutt, chair of the academic committee for the NGU Board of Trustees. “The hiring of Dr. Hunter Baker to become the new Provost is a huge win for the University. Dr. Baker’s training, experience, and expertise in politics, business, academics, law, and theology provide him a unique and amazing skill set. His diverse background, combined with a strong faith, give him the essential qualities necessary to lead and grow the academic faculty at a time when the education portion of ‘Christian education’ has never been more important or challenging.”
Baker’s earlier work included service with the Georgia Center for Opportunity/Georgia Family Council, representing the council’s positions at the state capitol; work with Justice Fellowship, the public policy arm of Prison Fellowship Ministries; and work with The Rutherford Institute while pursuing his law degree.
Baker was a doctoral fellow with the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University, and was the Inaugural HEB Faith and Learning Dissertation Fellow at Baylor.
“Dr. Baker champions the Christian Intellectual Tradition,” said Dr. Fant. “He is deeply committed to apologetics and evangelism. He is a dedicated and engaged churchman.”
“At its best, a Christian university models the kind of integrity that comes from bringing thought, belief, speech, and action into a consistent whole under the lordship of Christ,” said Baker. “Proceeding from a place of clear conviction, we will work together to find new ways to fulfill our mission in the dynamic world of higher education.”
Several evangelical leaders endorsed Dr. Baker’s move to NGU:
“I offer heartiest congratulations to President Gene Fant and the North Greenville University community regarding the appointment of Hunter Baker as University Provost. Dr. Baker is a faithful follower of Jesus Christ, a conscientious administrator, a thoughtful scholar, and a gifted writer and classroom teacher, who will bring his many good gifts, talents, and experience to bear on the fine work already taking place at North Greenville. Dr Baker’s commitments to distinctive Christian higher education, Christian worldview thinking, academic seriousness, and the importance of a learning community working together will benefit the overall efforts at North Greenville for many years to come.”
– Dr. David S. Dockery, President, International Alliance for Christian Education, and President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas
“Congratulations to North Greenville University. Hunter Baker is a great choice as your next Provost. He is a knowledgeable, experienced, and very personable leader who is thoroughly versed in both the academic dimensions of a strong Christian University and the operational support and practicalities vital for enabling its mission.”
– Dr. Robert Sloan, President, Houston Christian University, Houston, Texas
“The appointment of my friend Hunter Baker as Provost at North Greenville University signals that North Greenville is unafraid of its Christian commitments. I’ve known Hunter for well over a decade and in that time, he has courageously put himself forward time and time again as a model of unwavering Christian conviction and Christian statesmanship. An articulate spokesman for the evangelical mind within the public square and a regular contributor to the conservative intellectual movement, Hunter is a man of warmth and welcome and will undoubtedly foster an atmosphere of charity and intellectual rigor on NGU’s campus.”
– Dr. Andrew T. Walker, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics and Public Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky
“Hunter Baker is a gifted, thoughtful, reliable, and distinctly Christian academic leader. I’m grateful for the way he has consistently demonstrated the ability to think from and apply a Christian vision to his teaching and writing. I am confident that he will be a tremendous asset to the people of North Greenville University.”
– John Stonestreet, President, The Colson Center, Colorado Springs, Colorado
“Hunter Baker is one of the most compelling thought leaders in Christian higher education today. He is a devoted follower of Christ who brings his faith commitments to bear on the challenges and issues of our day. I am pleased for my many friends on the NGU faculty as Hunter transitions to the provost role there. You will find a very fine academic leader who listens well and cares deeply.”
– Dr. Carla Sanderson, Provost, Chamberlain University, Downers Grove, Illinois
“Congratulations to North Greenville University for its appointment of Hunter Baker as its new Provost. Dr. Baker is a highly accomplished scholar and a dedicated and effective academic leader. Any university would be fortunate to have him in a top position.”
– Dr. Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey
“Hunter Baker is a gentleman, a scholar, and a leading voice for evangelicals on important issues of faith and public policy. He has a passion for raising up a generation of courageous and compassionate Christians who go into the world and make a difference for the Kingdom of God. Dr. Baker’s keen mind and servant’s heart make this appointment a win for the faculty and students at an already extraordinary institution.”
– Dr. Daniel Darling, Director of The Land Center for Cultural Engagement, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas
“God has richly blessed NGU with the most capable of leaders. That He would add Dr. Hunter Baker to their team as provost is a sign of his special favor. Having worked closely with him for a long time, I cannot think of anyone better to lead NGU’s intellectual discipleship efforts in the next season.”
– Dr. John Basie, Director of Impact 360 Residency, Impact 360 Institute, Pine Mountain, Georgia
“Hunter Baker is a wonderful classroom teacher, an insightful scholar, and proven academic administrator. He is also a great friend and colleague. So, while I will miss having him here at Union, I am excited for this new opportunity for him and NGU. I look forward to hearing the good things which will come from his leadership at NGU.”
– Dr. Ray Van Neste, Dean of the School of Theology and Missions, Union University, Jackson, Tennessee