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New Emory scholarship focuses on LGBT youth

Alumni J. Michael Aycock (left) and Barry Baker have made a planned gift to establish the Aycock-Baker LGBT Scholarship at Oxford College. It is the largest gift to date in support of LGBT students at Emory.

After years of supporting Emory through service and philanthropy, J. Michael Aycock 66Ox 69C 82G and Barry Baker 81MR 09B have made a planned gift to establish the Aycock-Baker LGBT Scholarship at Oxford College. It is the largest gift to date in support of LGBT students at Emory.

“We’ve tried to take care of our family members who needed help along the way,” Aycock explains. “And now we’re taking care of our other family, the LGBT community.” 

Aycock and Baker spent most of their academic and professional careers at Emory. Aycock was associate dean for administration at Emory University School of Medicine. Baker, his husband, was a clinical professor of emergency medicine. He retired from clinical practice in 2021. 

“Our continued support through this gift is an endorsement of Emory’s mission and vision,” Baker says. “Emory has a clear history of supporting nondiscrimination in all areas, including LGBT rights.”

LGBT youth sometimes experience fraught relationships within their own families, which can make paying for — and accessing — higher education a challenge. “It’s important for them to know that there are support systems and people who want to help,” Baker says. “It’s one of the reasons we insisted that the term LGBT be included in the scholarship name — we wanted it to be a beacon for them.”

The scholarship is designated for a student attending Oxford College because Aycock has such fond memories of his own years there, many of which include professors Homer Sharp and Marshall Elizer and, of course, Dooley, Emory’s unofficial skeleton mascot. “He visited the Oxford campus frequently,” he said. “He’d drive up in his big black hearse and wander around.”

Aycock and Baker consider Oxford a great place to begin a college career. “It’s a smaller campus; there’s a low student-teacher ratio, and they provide so much support for students,” Aycock says. 

Emory President Gregory L. Fenves is determined to build upon the university’s welcoming culture as a means of ensuring that students grow into confident, joyful adults. “Creating an inclusive learning environment while making an Emory education possible for more students are major components of the 2O36 Campaign,” he says. “This scholarship will help us communicate to LGBT young people that they are both wanted and celebrated at Emory. And I am grateful to Michael and Barry for their gracious and longstanding support.”

The Aycock and Baker families are well represented at Emory. “We count 10 Emory University academic degrees or training certificates among our immediate family,” Aycock says. “In addition to our careers here, my late sister was a clinical instructor in the Department of Radiology’s Medical Imaging Program for more than 40 years. Barry and I established the Patricia Aycock Kimbell Endowment in her honor.” 

The scholarship for LGBT students is “an opportunity to use our money to help people who can then go on to thrive in their own lives,” Baker says. “It will enable someone to go to Emory who otherwise may not have. And for us, that’s key.” 

To learn more about supporting scholarships, contact Ryan Roche, managing director of advancement and alumni engagement for Oxford College, at

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