East-West Center Oral History Project: Richard Baker

Richard Baker

In his 20 years in the US Foreign Service, Dick Baker served in embassies in Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia. He also spent several years in Washington DC at the State Department and as a State Department congressional fellow working under international affairs experts Representative Jonathan Bingham and Senator John Glenn. Baker first came to the Center in 1983-84 as a Diplomat-in-Residence. In 1988, he returned as a research fellow in the International Relations Program (coordinated by Charles Morrison) where he also served as coordinator of the Diplomat-in-Residence program. Baker stayed on at the Center until his retirement in the late 2000s. He served at various times, as Interim Director of the Research Program, Special Assistant to the President, and adjunct Senior Fellow. Baker has worked with presidents Victor Li, Michel Oksenberg, Kenji Sumida , and Charles Morrison. Under President Morrison, Baker helped oversee the administrative restructuring which followed the Center's major Congressional budget reduction in 1995.

Read Baker's interview narrative (pdf)


  • Personal Background
  • Life Before EWC - Early Interest in Foreign Service - Foreign Service in Asia Pacific - EWC Diplomat-in-Residence - Retirement From Foreign Service - Congressional Fellow, 1988-89   
  • Life at EWC - Joining Research Program
  • Institutional Transitions - Research Program - Centerwide Programs - International Relations Program - Reduction-in-Force (RIF) - Morrison Presidency -  Reorganization/Research Program 1998 - Price Waterhouse Coopers Survey 1998 - Budgetary Measures 1998 - Administrative Reorganization - Media Program - Pacific Disaster Center - Northeast Asia Economic Forum - Affiliates - Special Assistant to the President
  • Intellectual Innovations - Islamic Initiative - Asia-Pacific Security Outlook Series - Lingle Administration/BOG Changes -  Strategic Plan 2005 - Branding EWC
  • Ties That Last - Alumni Network


Interview Quotes
About the Diplomat-in-Residence Program:
"From the East-West Center's point of view, the value in having a Foreign Service officer, an active Foreign Service officer in residence, is a number of things.  It brings the real-time contacts and context that a Foreign Service officer has, from the experiences that they have had in current, contemporary, topical issues as a diplomat.  Also, it brings their present-day knowledge of the institution and the foreign policy-making process in Washington.  All of those sort of practical sides of the international relations picture that can be very useful for the students at the East-West Center, for some of the projects, for the research fellows. It also provides a resource to the community, to speak about American diplomacy, about the State Department, about State Department careers, which is one of the things that they do."


"When Charles wanted to do the Islamic initiative after 2001, that was one of the things that was on my plate when I came back, and so working with Dennis Donahue we developed our Islamic journalists seminar.  And have done a couple of other things with Islamic visiting scholars and getting money to support Muslim participants in some of the ongoing programs like APLP [Asia Pacific Leadership Program] and even some of our student programs and seminars like the young leaders or the women's seminar, etc."


These narratives, which reflect interviewees’ personal perceptions, opinions and memories, may contain errors of fact. They do not reflect positions or versions of history officially approved by the East-West Center.