By Kaitlin Milligan
Assistant Magazine Editor
Adam Baron possesses a calm excitement.
His co-workers describe him as thoughtful and gregarious.
The walls of his office display paintings that remind him of his favorite travels and places in which he longs to return. More predominantly seen though is a whiteboard completely covered in flow-charts of the Rochester College community and its identity as a Christian college.
Implementing New Plans
As dean of students at RC since fall 2016, Baron oversees a team of six that includes campus ministry, housing, resident life and community standards.
Strategic planning wasn’t discussed when he interviewed for his RC role, but it has been an enjoyable and time-consuming part of his time at RC. Baron says he has been working from “30,000 feet,” examining the Christian identity of the school and how that shapes policies and plans for a new vision for the student life office.
In his first month on campus, he wrote a three-year master plan for student life, including renaming the office of student development — “The Center for Student Life” and writing a new mission statement: “Steadfast with Rochester College’s Christian identity, the Center for Student Life exist to support students in their quest for purpose, meaning and faith through dynamic co-curricular programs and relational ministry. “
In a way, this new mission statement reflects Baron’s personal experiences.
The Rochester area native attended Michigan State University to play football straight from high school but soon became overwhelmed with the program. On a cold snowy day in November 1989 on the banks of the Cedar River, Baron said he had a conversation with God that became a decisive moment in his life.
“I said, ‘God, if you exist — if Christianity is true — change my life and take over,’ ” Baron reflects. He then decided to leave MSU after his first semester and didn’t know what would be next. He transferred to Wheaton College, a faith-based school with high academic marks that he describes as, “ground-zero of evangelical Christianity.”
Those moments shaped his life, and propels his work with students now.
Shaping the "College Experience"
College students have little life experience and are in the midst of making critical decisions about their life mission. Because college was such a pivotal time in his own life, Baron knew that he wanted to be involved in that process for others.
Baron has shaped the experiences of college students frequently in the different roles he has served.
Baron has served as assistant dean at Capernwray Hall in London, a position that incorporated administration and relational ministry; resident director at George Fox University in Oregon; student pastor of a church in Central London; resident director and teacher for the religion department at Pepperdine University; house parent and teacher for Pepperdine University’s study abroad program in Shanghai, China; and he has worked for the Veritas Forums in Texas planning opportunities for students to explore truth and its relevancy to human life.
His moving for different work opportunities has created a wanderlust for him. “I love to go and see and do,” he said.
He also is grateful for the experiences and friendships that he has been able to build. “The going and seeing and doing has broadened my horizons and helped me see how my story fits into the bigger story of the world,” Baron said.
Baron credits his time living around the world with expanding his perception of others and God’s activity in the world by seeing the mix of culture and Christianity.
Connecting Faith with Work
“God’s story is bigger than our story, but we get to participate in God’s big story if we’re listening and paying attention to his nudging and guiding in our life. I think that understanding God’s story and the places I’ve been have definitely expanded my sense of how my little story fits into that bigger story. Because of the experiences I have had and the people I have met its made me feel like yeah God definitely has a place for me. It's not just by chance,” Baron said.
Baron believes that his little story and God’s big story for his life have connected over the years.
Baron wants RC students to have the opportunity to experience travel such as what has inspired him, so he has planned a trip for students to the United Kingdom this summer, which is just one example of his motivation to support students and contribute to something greater than himself.
His enthusiasm for supporting students is apparent to those that work with him.
“When it comes to education and formation, Dean Baron's passion for history is exceeded only by his passion for seeing students lives be changed for the sake of Christ,“ said Chris Shields, campus minister.
Future Desires for RC
Baron’s desires for RC to be its best and be a “rich and meaningful experience for every student that comes here, so that they can learn, grow, and discover who they are and who God is and what God’s purpose might be for their life,” he said.
His work at some prestigious schools has shown him what the standards can be for an institution and has fueled his pursuit of excellence “from the paint to policies and to personal.”
After overall planning is finished, his intention will be more on the ground engagement, being a mentor and friend to students, an experience he is more used to and passionate about.