College of the Atlantic Professor Jody Baker has been named to the new Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman Chair in the Performing Art, a $1.25 million endowed faculty position. PHOTO COURTESY OF COA

Baker named to new faculty chair at COA

BAR HARBOR — The performing arts are getting a boost at College of the Atlantic, with the completion of the Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman Chair in the Performing Arts, a $1.25 million endowed faculty position.

Three anonymous donors contributed to the new faculty chair as part of the Broad Reach Campaign for College of the Atlantic’s Future, a $50 million effort to endow new student scholarships and faculty chairs, create state-of-the-art, environmentally sustainable academic and residential spaces and transition to a fossil fuel-free campus. The campaign has raised $42.5 million in 22 months.

Joanne Woodward speaks at COA Commencement in 1987. PHOTO COURTESY OF COA

“In establishing the Woodward-Newman Chair, we ensure that the performing arts will forever be a core component of our curriculum in human ecology,” said COA president Darron Collins. “At the same time, we’re able to recognize some of the world’s best practitioners of performance and honor COA alumna Nell Newman, who co-founded Newman’s Own Organics, a champion of food sustainability and the ecological health of the planet.”

Professor Jodi Baker has been appointed the inaugural holder of the Woodward-Newman Chair at the college.

Baker joined the COA faculty in 2012 after working as an actor in New York and Los Angeles. She studied with The National Theatre of Great Britain and The Royal Shakespeare Company. Her teaching and creative work include actor training, movement training, projects at the intersection of theater and activism and more.

“I am humbled to occupy a chair named in honor of a couple who have undeniably made this world a better, more beautiful place through their work,” said Baker. “I am also excited by the opportunity to help COA students use performance studies to better understand the complex world they live in, and to explore what it means to work together in art.”

Newman introduced the endowed chair at a COA gathering earlier this summer where the Broad Reach campaign was announced. Speaking before a crowd of 200, she credited COA for a lifetime of human-ecological work, including the creation of Newman’s Own Organics.

“I was really lucky to end up at College of the Atlantic, and so is every other student that comes here, and finds themselves on a beautiful summer day, staring across the water, and wondering what their niche might be. I see now how each of use utilized our carefully crafted educations to teach others what a human ecologist really is,” she said. “Your investment in the future of this college is an investment in humanity and our mother Earth that sustains us all.”

The $50 million Broad Reach campaign focuses $7.5 million on endowing faculty chairs, which provide crucial support for faculty research, creative work and professional development.

Establishing chairs also improves the college’s ability to offer competitive salaries and benefits, essential for attracting exceptional teachers to COA, Collins said.

At the heart of the Broad Reach campaign is a $22 million project that will reimagine the north end of campus. The work includes the creation of a 30,000 square-foot, high-energy-performance academic building overlooking Frenchman Bay, a new art gallery and experimental theater and a new welcome center for college admissions, which will act as an intentional “front door” for the college.

Construction of the $10 million Center for Human Ecology, the first phase of the campus reimagining project, broke ground this spring, thanks to lead gifts from the Trustees of the Shelby Cullom Davis Charitable Fund, led by Andrew Davis, and Trustees of College of the Atlantic.

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