OWOSSO — A woman with close ties to the area and impressive credentials has been named the campus director of Baker College of Owosso.
Voula Erfourth, who has been employed by Baker for 17 years in several leadership positions, is replacing retiring Owosso Campus President Denise Bannan.
“I have had such strong role models during my time at Baker, and Denise Bannan was one of them,” Voula, 43 said. “We have really strong leaders here, and that’s who I want to be for other people. That’s what keeps me going.”
During her time at Baker, Erfourth has taught classes, and served as director of learning support services and campus dean of general education. Her last promotion was to director of academic affairs, a position she will continue to hold while campus director.
“As the director of academic affairs, I would get faculty and program directors the resources they needed, such as equipment, to help students,” she said. “Taking on the operations piece as campus director sounded like a natural.”
“We are excited to have Dr. Erfourth now serving as the campus director of Baker College of Owosso, and we cannot begin to express our gratitude for the impact Dr. Bannan has had on not only this campus, but all of Baker College,” Baker College President Bart Daig said in a news release.
Bannan began her career with Baker College in 1984. On the Owosso campus, she served as a faculty member, department chair, campus vice president for academics and eventually campus president for 13 years before being promoted to Baker College Provost. After a decade in that role, Dr. Bannan returned to the Owosso campus in 2017 to again serve as president through her now retirement. She will stay on as Baker’s higher learning commission accreditation liaison officer through the 2020-21 academic year.
“We wish Denise all the best in her well-earned retirement, and we look forward to Dr. Erfourth’s continued leadership,” Daig continued. “She has a proven track record for assisting our students in reaching their academic goals, and has been actively involved in both campus and system initiatives to drive quality outcomes for our institution.”
Erfourth was born in Greece and emigrated to America with her parents, who wanted the best education for her and her siblings. She grew up in Freeland, where she said her whole family learned English together.
She received the higher education she was seeking, earning a bachelor’s degree in English from Michigan State University, a secondary teaching certificate in English and speech from Eastern Michigan University and a master’s degree in American culture from the University of Michigan-Flint.
While working at Baker, Erfourth completed her doctorate in higher adult and lifelong education from MSU.
She was a public school teacher in Milford when she married Michael Erfourth, an Owosso native, 17 years ago. The couple moved to Owosso for his job. When there was no teaching job available in the local public schools, Voula Erfourth took a part-time position at Baker, working in the library, as a class substitute and teaching college orientation courses.
That part-time gig turned into full-time teaching at Baker (and subbing at public schools), followed by a series of managerial positions.
“I loved it here at Baker,” Erfourth said. “What has kept me here is we serve such a unique need. We’re the only higher education institution in the county. I get to come here every day and change people’s lives.”
Erfourth and her husband believe in giving back to the community, playing active roles on local boards. Voula Erfourth is currently serving a two-year term as president of the Memorial Healthcare Foundation Board. The couple have two sons attending Owosso Public Schools, Simon, 13, and Leo, 9.
“From the beginning, Owosso has always been such a welcoming community,” Voula Erfourth said. “If you have a desire to help on behalf of anything, Owosso has everything — so many opportunities to get involved.
“The ability to work in the community where I live — that’s a blessing not many people get. And Baker would not be what we are without community partners such as Memorial, the RESD and the chamber. We value being part of this community so much.”
Mary Slingerland, chair of the Baker College of Owosso board, said of Erfourth: “She’ll be great. “Voula has always done a great job for Baker, and she has done some tremendous work in our community.”
Founded in 1911, Baker College is Michigan’s largest, private not-for-profit college.
Baker College has multiple on-ground campus locations and two affiliate sites across the state, as well as an online campus offering more than 75 academic program options for both undergraduate and graduate degrees.