Professor Publishes Book about BW’s Founder


Stephanie Kumler

Dr. Indira Gesink of BW’s History Department with her new book about BW’s founder, John Baldwin.

Dr. Indira Gesink, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern History and Chair of the History Department at Baldwin Wallace University, recently published her book, Barefoot Millionaire: John Baldwin and the Founding Values of Baldwin Wallace University.
The book explores the life of John Baldwin and the founding views of BW.
Gesink found inspiration last fall to write her book after attending a conference held at BW about its vision and values and how the university plans to apply them in the future.
Gesink said, “I wanted to provide a better understanding of our past values and our values of the next seven years.”
While at the conference, Gesink realized that not a lot of people know about Baldwin Wallace’s founding visions or even the founder himself, John Baldwin.
Even before attending the conference, Dr. Gesink has done extensive reading and research about John Baldwin and his life. She knew she could easily write a book about the founder.
Gesink said, “There is nothing very recent about John Baldwin. I believe the most recent book about him was released in 1980s and before that the 1950s.”
One important thing in particular that Gesink wanted people to know was that the school was much more radical than many think.
“John Baldwin wanted to emit anybody no matter what race of gender they were. Baldwin wanted to let people express themselves without trying to manipulate their views.  That was very radical for the time,” Gesink said.
When the institute was established in 1845 it would have been only the second school in the nation to allow people of any race to attend.
It was not until 1854 that the institute was considered a university among the nation. At that time, it was the fourteenth university to allow anybody of any background to attend.
The book is called “Barefoot Millionaire” because John Baldwin would often walk around barefoot.
“Baldwin was a very wealthy man from the quarry business in Berea. He refused to look like a millionaire. He would wear very plain and everyday clothing. He looked like a normal working individual,” said Gesink.
John Baldwin believed that his money should go to God and education, and not be spent on himself, Gesink explained.
“I think people should read this book because it explains what the university stands for, and it dives into the history of the it,” Gesink said. Barefoot Millionaire: John Baldwin and the Founding Values of Baldwin Wallace University can be found in the bookstore.