March 1, 2014
Director of Communications
James Baxter Celebrating Four Decades of Service at VSU
VALDOSTA –Dr. James Baxter has witnessed the growth of Valdosta State and describes the university as a “wonderful place to work.”The past four decades, Baxter has worked his way through the academic ranks and served as head of the Department of Chemistry the past 12 years, including two years as interim department head.
He first arrived at Valdosta State College in 1962 as a freshman, and with the exception of a few years teaching high school chemistry and working on a master’s degree and doctorate in chemistry at Georgia Institute of Technology, Baxter has been an integral part of Valdosta State.
“When I was a student there were two chemistry faculty members, Dr. Harry Duvall and Dr. Maurice Lindauer,” said Baxter. “A few years ago we dedicated two of the labs in Bailey Science to these men. It was very important for me to do this; they not only helped me but a lot of students at that time. There are a lot of physicians in this area that had these two men as professors.”
He has had many proud moments, including construction of the Bailey Science Center and the recent addition to the building.
“The Bailey Science Center enables faculty members to engage in research. It provides the necessary facilities and equipment,” said Baxter. “It creates an interest in chemistry because students see an application on what they have learned in class, and they get excited and enthused about research.”
Helping students succeed and advance professionally is at the forefront of Baxter’s focus. For the past several years, Baxter has worked with members of the chemistry faculty and university administrators to develop a Professional Science Master’s in applied chemistry degree program.
The PSM in applied chemistry is a non-thesis degree that includes training in workforce skills such as business fundamentals, project management, and communication.
“We talked to a lot of local industry leaders and owners of companies, and they expressed the need for their employees to have these workforce skills,” said Baxter, who still lives on the farm he grew up on in Hahira, Ga., with his wife, Judy. “This degree is very popular because it has very practical applications. It will prepare people to work in the industry and give them greater expertise in their scientific field."
A staunch advocate for the faculty, especially those within the Department of Chemistry, Baxter values the faculty and student relationship that exists at Valdosta State.
“Our department has been very successful, and it is because of our faculty,” said Baxter. “We have wonderful faculty. This is truly a student-oriented faculty. They take time to work with students and answers questions. Most are engaged in research projects that get students excited about chemistry. It involves extra time, but they are glad to do it.”
Baxter is also very appreciative of the university’s administration and its financial support toward the sciences.
“The university has been extremely supportive of our department,” said Baxter. “The administration has provided funds for new equipment and new facilities. We have good faculty, and we also have good administrators that support our faculty and activities. You cannot get any better than that.”
Baxter has enjoyed his time at Valdosta State and has no plans of slowing down.
“I really enjoy what I do,” said Baxter, as he sits in his office on the third floor of the Bailey Science Center. “I know this sounds crazy, but I really love teaching. I love being around the students.”