Thanks to a recent gift from Daniel R. Baker ’72 and his family, the Finger Lakes Institute is in the process of developing a state-of-the-art water analytical facility with the goal of making Hobart and William Smith Colleges home to one of only four labs in the region to meet state certification standards.
The Baker Water Quality Laboratory, currently under construction, is a “generous and vital investment” that ensures the FLI at HWS is “eligible to work with New York State partners that support much of the water quality research and monitoring in the Finger Lakes region,” says FLI Director Lisa Cleckner. “We are grateful to Dan and his family for their support and vision in helping the FLI move forward with becoming a certified laboratory.”
Baker, president and CEO of Tate Engineering Systems, Inc., is based in the mid-Atlantic region, but he was raised in the Finger Lakes and owns a vacation home on Honeoye Lake.
“Having witnessed firsthand the arrival of invasive species such as zebra mussels, and the chronic blooms of blue green algae on our lake, I was interested to learn more about the lab and its work,” Baker says. “After meeting Dr. Lisa Cleckner and some of her passionate students, my wife Pat and I were convinced of the need for a water quality lab in the northern Finger Lakes and that the FLI was clearly the best location for such a facility.”
The FLI regularly works with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and watershed associations to protect the region’s water resources, which supply drinking water to more than a million people and, between agriculture and tourism, represent a $3 billion economic driver. With new equipment, renovated laboratory space, and support for technicians and students, the Baker Lab will strive to meet New York State standards and enable the FLI to have a broader impact at the local, regional and state level.
“The lab will provide hands on experience for STEM students, reduce the cycle time for completing water tests, encourage a higher number of tests to be performed, and become a source of revenue that will support other FLI initiatives,” says Baker. “It is our hope that this will lead to a better understanding of the dynamics affecting the water quality of our lakes and yield insight, trained personnel and resources to manage our lakes and watershed more effectively.”
In these areas, the Baker Lab marks a critical development in the FLI history and a cornerstone for its primary programming: research, education, community outreach and economic development. For Baker, the lab is both an investment in the future, as well as an appreciation for the past.
“Having been blessed with success in our business endeavors, our family is in the fortunate position to be able to make a gift of this nature,” he says. “I felt it was time to give something back to HWS in recognition of what the Colleges provided me so many years ago. I admire the work of Dr. Cleckner and the HWS students and hope that the lab will encourage and advance their voyage of discovery.”