1986 - Becomes Chairman of the Board and President of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.

An engineer and businessman, Dexter Baker, along with his wife, Dorothy, has helped sustain the cultural life at Lehigh and in the Lehigh Valley. In 1992, he was named Business Leader of the Year by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry for his accomplishments as CEO and Chairman of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.

Career at Air Products

Dexter Baker (b.1927) earned his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering in 1950, and his M.B.A. from Lehigh in 1957. In 1981, the university awarded him an Honorary Doctor of Engineering degree. Baker joined Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., in Allentown, PA, in 1952. Air Products is one of the world's leading producers of cryogenic equipment, industrial gases and other chemicals, cutting and welding equipment. From his beginnings as a Sales Engineer, he climbed the ranks to become one of the company's most influential leaders in its nearly seventy-year history. From 1957 to 1967, he and his family lived in England while he was chief executive of Air Product's European operations. After moving back to America, he was named president and chief operating officer in 1978 and became chairman of the board and chief executive officer in 1986. During his tenure as CEO and Chairman, Air Products dramatically expanded its business worldwide through numerous acquisitions in Europe and Asia. Baker retired in 1992.

In addition, Baker served in the U.S. Navy from 1945-46 and in the Army from 1950-1952.

Leadership Positions

Baker is a past chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers. He served as the Chemical Industry Trade Advisor for six and a half years. Baker is former chairman of the Investment Policy Advisory Committee to the U.S. Trade Representative and a former member of the Pennsylvania Economic Development Partnership Board. He is a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the American Management Association. He is a former director of AMP Incorporated and Eastman Chemical Company. He is also on the Advisory Council of Lutron Electronics, Inc.

Contributions to Lehigh Community

Baker is a Trustee Emeriti of the Board of Trustees and served as chairman of visiting committees for mechanical engineering, chemical engineering and music. The Bakers established the Dexter F. and Dorothy Baker Merit Scholarship Program for students in instrumental music, and helped raise funds for several campaigns and departments. The Bakers were co-chairs of the $35 million capital campaign for the Zoellner Arts Center and made a generous contribution to name Baker Hall.

Dorothy (Dottie) Baker has performed with numerous choral groups in the Lehigh Valley area, including the Bach Choir. She is active on the Boards of the Community School in Allentown as well as the Lehigh Valley Chamber Orchestra. She has also served on the Board of Muhlenberg College. The Baker Foundation supports merit scholarships in the arts at Lehigh University, as well as several other area schools and colleges.

The Bakers have taken an interest in other aspects of the arts in the Lehigh Valley. They provided funding for the Dorothy and Dexter Baker Center for the Arts at Muhlenberg College, built in 1976. They were also honored in 2008 for their continuous support of the Allentown Art Museum through their Dexter F. and Dorothy H. Baker Foundation. Baker is currently serving on the Collections Committee of the Board of Trustees.

The couple has four daughters, Ellen, Susan, Leslie, and Carolyn.

Awards and Achievements

In 1991, Baker was awarded the esteemed Chemical Industry Medal of the Society of Chemical Industry. The following year, he accompanied President George Bush, Sr. and other American business leaders on the Presidential Trade Mission to Asia. He received the Leadership Award from the United States Council for International Business in 1993.

Dexter F. Baker
B.S. Mechanical Engineering, MBA, Hon.D.
Notable Achievement: 
Former Chairman of Air Products and Chemicals, Inc.