Jerry E. Baker Foundation Commits $10 Million Endowment for WKU Scholarships

May 24, 2018

Jerry E. Baker, who passed away in 2017, was a Bowling Green businessman, philanthropist, and a 1951 graduate of WKU.
Credit Western Kentucky University

The estate of a longtime Western Kentucky University supporter is pledging a $10 million endowment for student scholarships.

Annual investment earnings from the endowment will be added to the Jerry E. Baker Student Scholarship Fund, which was initially created by a direct bequest by Baker, who passed away last June.

Baker was a businessman, philanthropist, and founder of the Baker Arboretum and Downing Museum in Warren County.

The new scholarship fund will provide support to WKU students who major or minor in music, dance, theatre, art, or horticulture.

The school is expecting to receive $450,000 from the Baker Foundation during the first year of the agreement.

WKU President Timothy Caboni said he’s happy to see such support for the fine arts.

“I think the arts are core to being a well-rounded person. And what we want to make sure we continue to make available to our students, and also to the community, is that we can be a place where you can experience that—experience it in a way that’s affordable. And, look, everybody doesn’t have to like what they see, but it’s nice to have the option available to them.”

The Baker estate announced plans in 2006 to offer WKU the choice of $10 million in student scholarships, or management of the Baker residence, arboretum, and museum.

School officials have announced the decision to accept the scholarship money, and keep management of the properties with the Baker Foundation.