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Citadel News Service
23 Feb 2017

Transformative gift names Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business


The Citadel is proud to announce a substantial gift from celebrated Charleston entrepreneur and philanthropist Tommy Baker and his wife, Victoria. In recognition of their generosity, the college will name its business program the Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business at The Citadel. It is the largest cash gift ever made to the college’s business program, and is being received as part of The Citadel Foundation for Leadership campaign.

Baker, founder and owner of Baker Motor Company, studied business while attending the college as a veteran student with The Citadel Class of 1972 after returning from service as an enlisted Marine. The gift, payable over a 10-year period, will fund several endowments and other resources to enhance the school’s offerings for veteran students, as well as cadets, graduate and evening undergraduate business students.

“When people in the Lowcountry think of Tommy Baker, they think of business success. This transformative gift will reflect his achievements, providing resources to create programs of distinction in the Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business,” said Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa, USAF (Retired), president of The Citadel and member of the Class of 1973. “The Bakers’ contribution will help us successfully conclude the LEAD Plan 2018, the college’s long-range plan, as we continue our mission to develop principled leaders.”

(Pictured: Tommy Baker (left) with Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa, USAF (Retired), Citadel President)

What the gift will provide

  • The gift establishes five new business professorships, one in each of the professional pathways offered by the Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business:  accounting, financial services, professional selling, supply chain management, and principled entrepreneurship.
  • The gift will also endow and support MBA and undergraduate-level programming in Principled Entrepreneurship and Innovation, offering business education with a strict focus on ethical decision-making as an entrepreneur.
  • A portion of the gift will permanently endow the Tommy B. Baker Veteran Fellowship program at The Citadel, which Baker initially established in 2014 with a gift of $250,000 to provide fellowships for qualified veteran students as they return to civilian life.
  • An endowment will focus strictly on student engagement, providing opportunities in areas such as online and executive education, internships, and career services. 
  • A portion of the gift will be held in a capital reserve fund to support the construction and maintenance of Bastin Hall, the new academic building that will house the Tommy and Victoria Baker School of Business.

“The education I received at The Citadel reinforced the discipline I learned in the U.S. Marine Corps, which together laid the groundwork for any business success I have experienced,” said Baker. “Both experiences reinforced my belief in the essential values of discipline and service to others. By giving back in this way, Victoria and I hope to provide future Citadel cadets and students with opportunities for success while producing principled entrepreneurs for Charleston, the Lowcountry and beyond.”

A legacy of giving

Tommy Baker was born and raised in Charleston. Motivated by a strong desire to serve his country and honor the patriotism of many past generations of Charlestonians, Baker enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps shortly after graduating from high school. He returned to Charleston in 1968 after serving in Okinawa and enrolled at The Citadel. According to Baker, the strict discipline of the Marine Corps prepared him for the rigors of the military college and for an education facilitated by The Citadel’s veterans’ program. 

In 1988, Baker began an intensive three-year study of business models and executive education as a student at Harvard Business School's exclusive Owner/President Management Program. Later, after 25 years as an automobile dealer across the South, he founded Baker Motor Company, which has since expanded throughout the Lowcountry and become an acclaimed leader in the automotive industry. 

The Bakers are dedicated philanthropists who make giving back to the Charleston community a priority. They support numerous charitable organizations, particularly in the education, medical, and arts communities. In 2008, Baker was recognized by the Association of Fundraising Professionals for Baker Motor Company’s philanthropy and encouragement of others to assume leadership roles in community involvement.

The Bakers’ other philanthropic support of The Citadel includes gifts to The Citadel Brigadier Foundation (athletic scholarship support), as well as the establishment of the distinguished Tommy B. Baker Veteran Fellowship program.

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