By Faith Ulate
Photo by Andrew Edwards
Kris Baier, 38, is the Student Life director and athletic director at Whatcom Community College. He said that he works directly with students to get them connected with each other and their community, and his goal is to help students find their passion and direction on their way to success.
“I’ve been very privileged to work with students at Whatcom as well as the staff and faculty,” Baier said. “This is one of the most relationship-oriented places I have ever been.”
Baier has lived in Washington state all of his life. After graduating at Capital High School in 1993, he continued on to Washington State University, where he studied music education. He then went on to graduate school at Western Washington University, where he received his master’s degree in Student Affairs Administration.
Baier met his wife at Western, and they have been married for four years. He said that they would like to have children someday.
As for now, Baier said that a future dream he has is “to travel with student leaders to Washington D.C. and let them experience it and realize that they have the rest of their lives to make an impact on their world and their community.”
“If I could have one wish, I would wish that I could freeze time,” Baier said. “Two years go by so quickly. I would like to keep working with these students and have more time to help them move forward to their professional dreams.”
Baier said he strives to influence and make an impact on students in the same way that he was inspired by his mentor, Dr. Susan Mancuso, a former vice president of educational services at Western.
“Dr. Susan Mancuso was so influential because her teaching was 100 percent student- centered,” Baier said. “Her philosophy was ‘the best way to learn is to learn by doing’, and she created an environment where we were able to do that.”
Baier said that philosophy has stayed with him over the years. After visiting colleges all over the country, and working at Western and Washington State University, he said he decided that Whatcom had a mission and vision of what he was striving for.
“The basic mission and vision of Whatcom is near and dear to why I love education here because it provides opportunities for all students to achieve success, and it’s a fast track to building skills for a positive impact on society,” Baier said.
“Whatcom feels like a tight knit community, whereas with larger colleges it is harder to create that,” Baier said. “Here it feels like we are all inter-connected, and the staff truly cares about the students that go here.”
Baier said he enjoys the outdoors of the Northwest and likes to hike and cycle. He also said that he loves Seattle sports teams like the Mariners, Seahawks, and Sounders.
Music is also something Baier said he likes to do in his free time. He played the trumpet in high school and college. He also played for two seasons with the Olympia Symphony Orchestra.
“Something that not everyone knows about me is that I performed at the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome with a select choir and a trumpet ensemble,” Baier said. “I was also able to direct Capital High School’s jazz band for a campaign stop for Al Gore.”
Baier said he originally wanted to be a band director, but life took him on a different path. His love for learning and encouraging students to grow is what led him to seek the position of Director of Student Life, he said.
Baier said if there was any advice he could give students at Whatcom, he would tell them to “always look ahead towards your future…one year, three years, five years. You can always change your mind with what you want to do. I always thought I wanted to be a trumpet player all my life, but my college experience took me on another path.”
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