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Longtime educator Jimmy H. Baker appointed ACCS Chancellor

By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter

The Alabama Community College System board of trustees voted on Wednesday to appoint acting chancellor Jimmy H. Baker as chancellor starting April 1.

Baker, who has served as interim chancellor for more than six months, replaces Mark Heinrich, who retired after being sidelined by a prolonged illness.

“Jimmy Baker has done a tremendous job of leading the system during the chancellor’s absence and has been far more than a place-holder,” said Al Thompson, Vice Chairman of the Community College system’s Board of Trustees. “As we searched for a permanent replacement, we realized we could never find a chancellor who would be more experienced or prepared than Jimmy Baker.”

If there is a bright star in the gray firmament of politics, it is the Community College System where Baker, assisted by the Board and a talented staff, has charted a course that will allow every student who wishes a better future, to find it at one of the Community Colleges throughout the State.

Jeff Lynn, Senior Executive Director for Workforce and Economic Development, said after Baker’s appointment, “That man brought me here, and his leadership means everything to our success.” Lynn, a rockstar in educational workforce training, credits Baker with persuading him to leave a successful career in Louisiana to launch Alabama’s workforce development training.

“I am honored to be in this position,” Baker said. “Alabama has no greater asset than its Community College system, and we are uniquely positioned to ensure our students have the skills they need to meet their goals. While we will continually adapt and upgrade our programs, our basic mission remains the same: We want to provide our students opportunities for success, whether they want to work toward a four-year degree, to get a good job, or to upgrade their skills.”

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Baker began his K-12 education career as a teacher and coach at Daleville High School. He quickly moved up the administrative ranks first being named superintendent in Daleville, later in Coffee County and then at the State Department of Education as Assistant Superintendent for Finance. As Assistant State Superintendent, Baker oversaw all budgets and financial reports for the State Education Office, local school systems, and the Community College system.

From 1995 to 1999, he served as State Finance Director under Gov. Fob James. As the State’s top financial official, Baker had broad responsibilities over a range of government functions, including purchasing, contracting, information technology, insurance, and bonds. Baker also developed and secured passage of the Foundation Program to allocate school funds more equitably. He implemented the program during a short-term assignment as a Deputy State Superintendent.

In addition to his public sector experience, Baker has a significant track record in the private sector. For ten years, he served as president of the brokerage firm, George M. Wood & Co. He also managed large-scale real estate developments and operated several private partnership businesses, including a medical evacuation company.

“Jimmy Baker understands the important work of community colleges from virtually every angle, from administering the schools and teaching the students, to hiring them when they graduate,” said Milton Davis, a member of the Board of Trustees who chaired the personnel committee that led the chancellor search. “He brings a unique perspective, and he knows that ultimately the work of our community colleges is about ensuring the success of our students, the success of our businesses, and the success of our State.”

Baker became Chief of Staff of the Community College system in January 2016 and was named interim Chancellor in August, after Heinrich developed severe complications from an illness. Heinrich announced in February that he planned to retire April 1 because of ongoing health issues.


Bill Britt is editor-in-chief at the Alabama Political Reporter and host of The Voice of Alabama Politics. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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