Long-Serving EWU Administrator to Start ‘New Chapter’

February 8, 2024

Mark Baldwin’s history at Eastern Washington University spans close to 40 years. On March 1, he will officially retire and move on to the next chapter of life.

Baldwin, who earned two degrees at EWU, started working at the university as a student 36 years ago. He has since worn multiple hats, most recently serving as chief of staff with the Office of the President.

The campus will celebrate Baldwin at a retirement send-off from 2:30-4 p.m., on Friday, Feb. 9, in the Showalter Rotunda. Cake will be served and there will plenty of opportunities to share memories.

Over the years, Baldwin has stepped up to serve in numerous roles that have served EWU students and supported the larger community.

“Mark is intertwined with the fabric of Eastern. His impact will carry on into the future,” says EWU Provost Jonathan Anderson. “I know that Mark’s spirit of collaboration will inspire positive growth in the next chapter in his life.”

Baldwin ’90, ’99, came to EWU as the son of parents and grandparents who valued education. His grandmother earned her teaching degree back in 1927 when EWU was the Washington State Normal School. He proudly displays the diploma in his office in Showalter Hall.

While earning his undergraduate degree in education, he met his wife of 34 years, Kerri Baldwin, who was studying to become a speech therapist, when they worked together in Pearce Hall.

Mark Baldwin takes a minute to reflect on the people and experiences at Eastern.

Among his many achievements at Eastern, Baldwin points to his role in launching EWU’s Running Start Program as perhaps his most impactful. The program, which operates in cooperation with high schools, provide classes that fulfill high-school graduation requirements but are rigorous enough to earn college credits. EWU admitted its first Running Start students during the 1997-98 academic year. The program has since served more than 6,000 students.

“I think implementing Running Start was the biggest. No one knew how big it could be,” Baldwin says.

Before the program arrived at Eastern, he recalls, community colleges in Washington had offered versions of Running Start for a couple years. Four-year colleges, however, were reluctant to embrace the program.

Regardless of that reluctance, Baldwin and his team saw value in it, and worked to create a model that would work for an institution like Eastern.

“We worked on course equivalencies so we knew what course at Eastern would meet the high school requirements. It was really disruptive in the Running Start world,” Baldwin recalls.

Baldwin also made sure that EWU’s Running Start program eliminated barriers and increased access.

“Families who had less means couldn’t take advantage of the program,” Baldwin says. “So, we really focused on getting them books and getting them transportation out here to kind of level the playing field a little bit and create the same opportunities.”

EWU can also thank Baldwin for the success of another important project: the implementation of Banner, an “enterprise resource planning” system that allows universities like Eastern to utilize advanced digital tools for higher education management.

Getting on board wasn’t easy. While migrating of hundreds of lines of major and program codes into the new Banner system, he says, he experienced so much eye-strain that he taped a clear ruler onto his computer screen so he could follow the lines.

“No one knew how to do these things,” Baldwin says with a laugh, “I was just always willing to jump in.”

During a stint overseeing EWU advising, its records office and its institutional research team, Baldwin says he never failed to be impressed by the remarkable teamwork and commitment he encountered.

“We really had something special there,” he says. “We had great minds, great collaboration. It was really kind of a special thing. Sometimes you don’t know it when you’re in it, you only know it when you look back.”

Both of Baldwin’s twin daughters, who are now 27, earned degrees at EWU. He says his family’s experience only reinforces his pride in the promise and value that Eastern offers. He is also proud of the role he played to help ensure that the university makes its opportunities available to a wide range of students.

“I don’t know if you could honestly say that it is possible for anyone to go to Stanford or that anyone could go to even, Gonzaga,” Bladwin says. “But, really, anyone can go to Eastern. That doesn’t mean we admit anyone, it means that if you’re a high school student and you start thinking ‘I’m going to go to Eastern,’ you can get to Eastern. So, the promise of education plays itself out here every day.”

What’s next for Baldwin? As a person of faith, he says has been called to serve in a new way —providing operational support for Southside Christian Church (where he and his wife are congregants) so that the church’s ministers can focus more on the needs of both the church and the larger community.

Baldwin is also thrilled to expand his volunteer work with the aid group Joshua 1:Nine, which provides nutritional support to kids in need in the Dominican Republic. “We work through baseball,” he says with a laugh.

Baldwin says he’s looking forward to staying connected to the EWU community. But he does hope his campus colleagues and friends might take away one parting thought: Take the time, he says, to experience the wonder of Eastern.

“I think that there are moments that are just hard to describe,” he says. “If you work here and you don’t take advantage of what is around you all of the time, you have missed out on a precious opportunity.”