Phyllis Baker

Phyllis Baker

Primary Affiliation: Equity, Justice, and Human Flourishing Working Group

Academic Affairs Advisor, Institute of Government and Public Affairs | University of Illinois System

Skill Highlights

Academic Administration

Analysis of Academic Policies and Procedures

Qualitative Research Techniques

Conducting Collaborative and Interdisciplinary Research


Named Inaugural Director of Academic Affairs, Discovery Partners Institute
Elected President of the Midwest Sociological Society (2016-18)
Named Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor, Student Affairs Professor, Teaching Professor, Department of Sociology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (2015-17)
Named American Council on Education Fellow, hosted by Office of the Provost at the University of Iowa (2011-12)



Phyllis Baker is coordinating efforts to define the initial academic programming at the institute and is overseeing the Academic Executive Committee, which is composed of University of Illinois faculty from across the System’s three universities in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago, and Springfield.

Prior to joining the Office of the President of the University of Illinois System, Phyllis was a teaching professor of sociology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She is Professor Emerita from the University of Northern Iowa where she served as Head of the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology; Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies; and Associate Dean in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

2019 – Present  Director of Academic Affairs, Discovery Partners Institute University of Illinois System

2017 – 2019 Visiting Special Assistant to the President University of Illinois System

2016 – 2018 President-Elect/President Midwest Sociological Society

2015 – 2017 Assistant to Vice-Chancellor, Student Affairs Professor, Teaching Professor University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

2012 – 2015 Department Head Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology University of Northern Iowa

1988 – Ph.D. (Sociology) University of California at San Diego

1981 – M.A. (Sociology) University of California at San Diego

1979 – A.B. (Sociology) San Diego State University


Board of Directors

Phyllis Baker is a member of the Board of Directors for the Rape Advocacy, Counseling, and Educational Services in Urbana, IL. The program provides compassionate comprehensive support to those affected by sexual trauma. Phyllis Baker and the program engage with communities through prevention education programs that promote consent.

1,000 Faculty

As Director of Academic Affairs, Phyllis Baker designed and led the development of the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) academic policies and governance structures including bylaws, DPI faculty membership program, and the elected Executive Committee. Established and oversaw eight DPI thematic working groups that included 120 faculty members and 1,000 faculty in advisory groups. Designed and implemented an outreach plan for DPI and the U of I System universities that supported operations and communications/collaboration with faculty and university administration.

$5,000 Lecture Fund

As Director of Women’s and Gender Studies, Phyllis Baker secured a $500,000 bequest and a $5,000 lecture fund to Women’s and Gender Studies Program. She co-chaired a Program Reprioritization Task Force that designed the process for and evaluated 360 academic programs at University of Northern Iowa.

$2 Million

As the Department Head of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology at the University of Northern Iowa, Phyllis Baker oversaw a departmental budget of $2 million. She secured $85,000 for and oversaw development of a 25-student collaborative intensive technology classroom. She created and implemented an internship coordinator position and a vibrant and sought-after internship program across departmental disciplines.

Student Affairs

As Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Phyllis Baker represented Student Affairs on the Provost’s Council for Student Learning Outcomes Assessment that implemented a campus wide academic program assessment process and campus wide student learning outcomes. She co-chaired a Student Affairs Assessment Committee that created and implemented division wide program assessment, integrating division annual reports and institutional data metrics.

Recent Publications

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2022 Plumer Visiting Professor, St. Anne's College, Oxford University
2022 Designated Fulbright Specialist on Civil Rights Complementarity and IHSS Distinguished Visiting Fellow by Queen Mary University, London, United Kingdom
2018 Named as one of the 150 for 150: Celebrating the Accomplishments of Women at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for its sesquicentennial celebration
2015 Honored at Signing of the Utah Compromise, receiving one of 16 signing pens in recognition of work with the Utah Legislature to enact its landmark LGBT nondiscrimination law, Senate Bill 296
2011 Louise A. Halper Diversity Award, Journal of Civil Rights and Social Justice, Washington and Lee University School of Law
2007 Citizen's Legislative Award, presented by Delegate Robert Bell, Virginia House of Delegates, for work on Virginia's informed consent legislation
2020 Granted the Mildred Van Voorhis Jones Chair in Law at the University of Illinois College of Law
2020 Larine Y. Cowan Make a Difference Award for Advocacy for LGBTQ Affairs
Honored by the Utah State Legislature in 2022 for her sustained efforts on behalf of human rights, fairness for all, and a more civil society.
Top 10 Most-Cited Family Law Faculty in the US 2016 -2020.
Named a member of the 2021-2022 cohort of Public Voices Fellowship sponsored by the University of Illinois System


Policy Work

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