Dean Baird retires from university


Emma Tanner, Managing Editor

The College of Arts, Science and Engineering dean, Dr. Sara Lynn Baird, will be retiring after the spring semester. Associate dean Dr. Ryan Zayac will be interim in her absence.

Baird received her undergraduate and masters degree in vocal performance. After getting a job in high school choir, she decided to pursue education. She taught high school for six years in Florida before obtaining a PhD in musical education from Florida State University. From there, she went on to teach at Louisiana State University. 

She remained at LSU for 18 years. She moved through faculty ranks before going into administrative roles. In 2009, she accepted a position at Auburn University. In 2018, former students of hers and current UNA faculty members informed her of an associate dean opening at UNA. She served as associate dean for a year, served as interim after the dean’s retirement and got the job following a national search. She has spent 38 years in academia.

Baird initially did not see herself going into administration. However, she followed the career path at the encouragement of those around her. 

After having been in education for so long, Baird has decided that “it’s time.” Another contributing factor is UNA’s retirement incentive. The university offers those who are eligible for retirement some additional compensation added to their paycheck. It does not affect retirement amounts. Those who have been in jobs for a long time are usually more incentivized to retire through the extra pay. 

“I’ve not wanted to be the person that people say should have retired sooner, and so that many have unconsciously been involved in my decision,” said Baird. “You’re a very busy person when you’re in administration… I think I want some time to be more free.”

She finds that an important aspect of being dean is advocating for all majors and classifications. She is the first CASE dean to have an arts background.

“What is important for any dean is to make sure that you develop an understanding of all of the areas under your supervision and be an advocate for all of those areas,” Baird said. “Obviously there are many things to consider as you’re forming your advocacy points, but that’s part of your job as dean.”