“Dr. Baker rocks!”

So claims the anonymous graffiti artist who left this on a wall in the basement of the old Physics Building:

Dr Baker rocks

Stephen Baker came to Rice in 1963, fresh out of Yale if I recall correctly. He worked in the Bonner Lab on high-energy scattering and also on gravitational physics at NASA. He was master of Wiess and a pretty great teacher.

A few days ago, just by chance, I came across these images of Stephen Baker teaching in the Physics amphitheater. They’re not dated but his hair is dark. Look closely and it appears that he is indeed rocking:

Steve Baker 2 nd

Steve Baker 4 nd rightSteve Baker 1 nd

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29 Responses to “Dr. Baker rocks!”

  1. No date, but there is a time. 12:58, in the last photo.

    Color photos would date it somewhat. Prints, slides? Any timestamps on them? Film type on the negatives? Color was pretty expensive in the 70’s and 80’s.

    • You can see the second hand, so 12:57:52. And what kinda swoopy stuff is he drawing connected to that battery?

      Electrical stuff was second semester of freshman physics, if that helps.

      • John Stoner, Wiess '75 says:

        More like 11:02. The print is reversed. (Look really closely at the numbers on the clock.)

      • Richard Miller (Hanszen '75 & '76) says:

        I wonder if that was one of the non-SE physics courses. There were a pair of non-calculus based courses and then there was the physics course for academs (physics for poets as I recall) which functioned as a distribution course for them. I don’t think we did visual aids like that in the physics 101/102 course

      • Stephen Baker says:

        The diagram that I am drawing on the board (with my RIGHT hand) is a representation of the cathode ray tube that can be seen on the lecture desk in the picture in which I am holding the arrows. This must have been the first lecture on magnetism during the spring semester, following electrostatics and d-c circuits.

  2. Marie Brannon says:

    A Google search reveals that the design on the Diet Coke can (on the desk) was introduced in 1983. 🙂

    • Ooh, nice catch. Matches up with color film being too expensive when I was at Rice (1975-1981).

      And good eyes on the clock, John. I thought that 12:57:52 was not the right time for a class.

      • Deborah Gronke Bennett (BSEE Hanszen 1982) says:

        So if you note the position of the plaid shirt on the desk between Dr. Baker and the class, both the first and third pictures are reversed. The second one is correct ( also verified by the writing on the chalkboard).

        Dr. Baker was master of Hanszen when I lived there, 1976-1980. And his wife Priscilla was head of ICSA.

      • Deborah Gronke Bennett (BSEE Hanszen '82) says:

        As someone else noted below, I mixed up the wife reference. Priscilla Huston was head of ICSA, and Dr. Huston was master after Stephen Baker. My apologies to both professors and their wives. 35 years is a long time!

  3. James Medford says:

    Dr. Baker was Hanszen College master in the 70’s …
    http://hanszen.rice.edu/AboutHanszen/MastersList.html

  4. He was master of Weiss before he became master of Hanszen.

  5. Mike Ross says:

    I don’t recall color film being very expensive when I took a lot of photos of trips I took in the summer of 1969.

    • As Thresher Photo Editor in 1976-77, I personally shot 360 rolls of film. That kinda adds up on a student budget.

      My dad shot only color slides as I was growing up, of course.

      If you bulk-loaded film from 100 foot rolls and developed your own, black and white was far cheaper.

  6. Hannah Baker Hitzhusen says:

    My dad and mom were acting Masters at Wiess in the late 60s (69 maybe?) and Masters at Hanszen from 73-78.

    They did come straight from Yale on a post doc expecting to stay a few years. (They still live in Houston.)

    The braces on the trousers were his sartorial statement only for a specific period (longish, but finite) and that would help date the photo.

  7. And Priscilla of ICSA was the (then) wife of the next Hanszen Master, Dennis Huston. She is not Hannah Baker’s mom. Dennis and Priscilla were there when I arrived in 1980. Think, for a moment, what a whirlwind it was to have Dennis Huston as your college Master.

    • Richard Miller (Hanszen '75 & '76) says:

      But Dennis Huston almost was master in ’73. It came down to him and Dr. Baker and the college went for Dr. Baker. Dr. Huston was a whirlwind but I think that many of the older students felt he would impose to much change, especially after Dr. Gruber. (At the time of the selection, the last vestiages of freshman guidance and the concept of freshman serving still exists. Dr. Huston made id clear that such things would not survive and that may have swung sentiment to Dr. Baker).
      Interesting enought both died soon after anyway. Fall of 72 was the last real guidance and freshman serving survived about a semester after Hanszen went co-ed.

      • marmer01 says:

        I remember Dr. Gruber, who was still a Hanszen associate, showing us a Hanzsen-crest “dinner blazer” which the “gentlemen” of Hanszen had to wear to evening meals during his time. Freshman serving was definitely in effect in 1980/81; I carried many a tray. It died out soon after that. As I recall no one really cared all that much one way or another.

      • Richard Miller (Hanszen '75 & '76) says:

        Serving must have made a comeback. In ’74 we did freshman serving for about a semester until we went to communal serving for the evening meal. (different people went to get a course tray or cleared). We may have had freshman serving on Sonday for a bit longer but I think it was pretty much gone by my senior year). The blazer was probably for Sunday dinner. I think when Dr. Gruber started, the rule was ties in the evening and coat & tie on Sunday (and I do mean rules, you were guilty of a college judicial offense if you did not conform). By my year (’71) the tie rule only applied to Sunday dinner and may have survived until ’73, the first co-ed year. It went away when a ‘jailhouse lawyer’ figured out that the rule only required a tie to be worn to sunday dinner, nothing in the rules required any other form of clothing to be worn so we had someone show up in a tie and a smile. Dr. Gruber explained that this was not acceptible and it blew over. Then in the fall of ’73, one of our more notorius members (who will remain anonymous) did the same thing and was not willing to admit it was not a good thing so the rule got killed

  8. marmer01 says:

    Clip-on suspenders? Really, Stephen? 😉

  9. marmer01 says:

    I’m actually not sure that we had dinner on Sunday nights by then. Pretty sure it was Monday through Friday only and you were on your own on Saturday and Sunday. I could be wrong. Hannah, do you remember? (She and I were there at the same time)

    • James Medford says:

      I was in Hanszen ’81 – ’85. Dinner was Monday – Friday during those years, and you were on your own Saturday and Sunday. We still had Freshman serving in Fall ’81, but not in Spring ’82. I can’t remember how much longer Freshman serving survived after my Freshman year, if at all.

    • HB says:

      That sounds right especially since I remember benefiting from the Hare Krishnas’ largesse on Sunday nights sometimes (the Wiess biker boys were big fans–free food!–and brought me along).

    • Richard Miller (Hanszen '75 & '76) says:

      Sunday noon was the ‘formal’ dinner. We were on our own both Saturday night and Sunday night

  10. Sarah Baker Topper says:

    We were at Weiss 71-72 as acting Master family while someone else was on sabbatical. I think this picture is relatively early 80’s. I was at Rice from 83-88 and some of those students look familiar to me!

  11. David Benson says:

    How fantastic to run into those from the past.
    I taught Hanna Baker science when she was in 9th grade at Lanier.
    Dr. Baker was most kind in having Hanna’s class over to the Rice Physics Labs as a field trip.
    A great educational opportunity for all topped only by Dr. Bakers enthusiasm for physics and inquiry which really inspired the students. He communicated so well with the ninth graders,
    speaking on a level that they could understand . Truly a mark of a great teacher.
    For a retired public school science teacher, those days hold great memories.
    I became a Registered Nurse and continue my “public service” to this day.
    Very best wishes for all.
    Mr. “B”

  12. Pingback: It Can’t Happen Here, Part II | Rice History Corner

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