Noted evangelical scholar Hunter Baker named NGU provost

Noted evangelical scholar Hunter Baker has been named provost and dean of the university faculty at North Greenville University, NGU President Gene C. Fant Jr. announced to the university’s board of trustees on Oct. 19, during its fall meeting. Baker was introduced at the board’s plenary session on the Tigerville campus, and also met with NGU academic leadership.

Baker will begin his NGU tenure on Jan. 1, 2024, moving from Union University in Jackson, Tenn. 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 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 the church and society.”

Baker will fill the senior administrative position previously held by 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 Ph.D. 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 academic, political, cultural, and religious arenas. He also is a regular columnist for World Opinions. He presented the President’s Distinguished Lecture at NGU during 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 Brian Spearman, chair of NGU’s board of trustees. “His personal testimony of faith in Christ is truly amazing. His expertise in Christian higher education 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. 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 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 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.”