Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of Hunter trustee Patty Baker ’82 and her husband, Jay, Hunter’s Department of Theatre will soon have a beautiful new home. The Bakers’ gift was announced on January 13, at a meeting of the Hunter College Foundation Board of Trustees.
Their gift funds the acquisition and renovation of a landmarked 26,000-square-foot building on East 67th Street. Because the building has housed the Kennedy Child Study Center, a school owned by the Archdiocese of New York, its sale required Vatican approval.
Patty Baker attended Hunter following a career as a flight attendant and work at Tiffany & Co. Now a Broadway producer, she credits a Hunter theatre course for sparking an interest that led to a new vocation, Tony honors, and, most recently, the musical Beautiful, about singer/composer Carole King.
Jay Baker, the longtime president of Kohl’s, retired after building the company into a retail giant. In philanthropic partnership with his wife, he now devotes himself to supporting excellence in higher education.
The Bakers had advised Hunter of their plan to donate $10 million. But true to their love for great drama, the couple arrived at the trustees’ meeting with a spectacular new script. After President Raab announced the multimillion-dollar gift, they raised their hands and revealed that they were increasing the sum by 50 percent. Members of the theatre faculty and a number of theatre students were present, and the room erupted in cheers and applause.
The Department of Theatre’s new home will be named Baker Hall.