By George Mauzy
Before he even started his new job on Monday, the first executive director of Baker University Center and university events was working quickly to get to know the campus.
Over the weekend, Sujit Chemburkar introduced himself to three of the largest student programming organizations and stopped by Latitude 39, Baker Center's premier dining spot.
On Monday, he visited the many businesses and offices that occupy the center, meeting with staff and students.
"I had a busy first day and my schedule for the rest of the week is starting to fill up," Chemburkar said. "I couldn't wait to get started."
In his new role, he is responsible for the vision, planning, management and evaluation of the Baker University Center operation and oversight of the Office of University Events. Between the two, there are 12 full-time employees, about 200 student workers and an operating budget of more than $5 million.
Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Rich Carpinelli had served as interim director of Baker University Center since early November. Gretchen Stephens is director of the Office of University Events and will continue to run the day-to-day operation.
"This job was a wonderful opportunity, and the timing was great for me and my family to make the move to Ohio," Chemburkar said. "Baker Center has already been recognized nationally for its great architecture and design; I want to help it win some awards for its programming efforts and develop a national reputation as one of the best student unions."
Chemburkar said his first priority is to build relationships with Baker Center tenants and the many community members who use the facility and Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. The two serve as primary venues for university events.
"Building quality relationships with my colleagues and the students is an important step toward getting to know the campus," he said. "I also will work hard to make sure there are no obstacles in place for people who want to enjoy our programming and services."
Chemburkar most recently served as director of the student union at Truman State University in Kirksville, Mo., where he was responsible for facilities, services and programming.
Before joining Truman State in 2004, Chemburkar served as assistant director of union programs and services at Central Missouri State University from 2001 to 2004. He began his professional career in student affairs in 1995 as a programming assistant and resident assistant at New Mexico State University.
Vice President for Student Affairs Kent Smith said the position will bring more cohesion to the operations of Baker Center and University Events, which share the mission of scheduling attractions that appeal to the entire community.
"Sujit was the right person for the job because he has experience as a student center director and was eager to serve as an advocate for the students and their programming needs," Smith said. "He also understands that his areas' programming must cater to the greater university and local communities as a whole."
A native of El Paso, Texas, Chemburkar is nearing completion of a doctorate in education from the University of Missouri. He earned his master's degree in college student personnel administration from Central Missouri State University and his bachelor's degree in psychology from New Mexico State University. He and his wife, Tracy, have a 4-year-old son, Rohan.