University News

WIU Accounting Alumna Launches New Scholarship

December 14, 2022

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MACOMB, IL – Accounting students at Western Illinois University will soon have a new scholarship opportunity, thanks to the generosity of alumna Judy Baker, ‘71, ‘72.

Baker, who graduated with her bachelor's degree in Accounting, and her master's degree in Accountancy, has enjoyed a decades-long career in the accounting field, and it all started with her training at WIU.

"I have good memories of getting a quality education in Accounting at WIU from some very good instructors," Baker shared. "The encouragement and support I felt from the faculty gave me the belief that I could be successful in this field."

And successful she has been. After graduating from Western, Baker worked for Clifton, Gunderson and Co. CPAs in Macomb until 1990. At that time, she relocated to California, working as the Senior Audit Manager for Johnston, Gremaux and Rossi. After semi-retiring in 1998, Baker continues to work part-time as a consultant.

Baker's time at WIU more than prepared her for her career.

"Seeing the wide grin on Dr. Bruce Kruse's face the day our scores for the CPA exam results were received (was a favorite)," she said. "There was a group of seven students, and our group had an 85% first time pass rate. At the time, the national average was about 12%."

In addition to the academic training she received, Baker remembers the support she received from her faculty.

"I was one of only three women in my class majoring in Accounting, and all of our instructors were very supportive of women entering this field," she said.

Today, half of the students pursuing a Bachelor of Business degree in Accounting at WIU are women.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Baker had several memorable experiences outside the classroom in the 70s, specifically referencing Cheech and Chong performing in the University Union, and Vietnam War protest marches conducted on Lafayette Street. The parallels to today's student life continue, with student performances frequently occurring in the University Union, and the Lafayette Street/U.S. Route 136 intersection serving as a popular spot for protests and demonstrations.

Baker credits the high equality education she received at WIU to her faculty. She gave back to the department immediately after graduating, serving for three years as a part time instructor in Accounting. Now she is ready to leave a lasting impact on the WIU School of Accounting, Finance, Economics, and Decision Sciences (AFED). When it is fully funded, the Judith Baker Scholarship will support one undergraduate student, in their sophomore year or higher, who is majoring in Accounting.

"The School of AFED appreciates Ms. Baker's recent generosity," said AFED Director Jessica Lin. "Today's students are faced with so many challenges, particularly financial pressures. Endowed scholarships such as this go a long way in alleviating the financial burden students carry and will make it easier for them to focus on their studies and professional growth. Judith Baker has been a significant supporter of our Accountancy program, and this endowed scholarship ensures that the impact of her legacy will be felt by future generations of Leathernecks."

Additional information about the WIU Accounting program is available at Details about the For The W comprehensive campaign are available at

Posted By: Drew Donahoo (
Office of University Communications & Marketing