Tucked away in tiny Baldwin City is Baker University, which is the oldest university in Kansas.

Baker University, founded in 1858, has something few other universities in Kansas have and something impossible in its pre-Civil War days: a woman president.

Pat Long, who has a doctorate, has been president since 2006 and is well aware that she's leaving a mark on higher education.

"I've been really fortunate that I think I came along just as the glass ceiling was starting to crack a little and so I'm grateful to people before me who started to put a little break in it," she said.

The road there has been long. She was the first in her family to graduate from college. She grew up in Wheatland, MO.

"My mom taught me the importance of giving back and the importance of caring. My dad taught me the love of math and that as a girl I could do just about anything I wanted," she recalled.

Right after college, she got engaged to her high school sweetheart, Dennis Long, who was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War.

"The first time that I had ever flown in my life was by myself to Germany to meet him for Christmas Eve. What could be better than that," Long recalled.

While her husband served in Vietnam, she taught soldiers at their home base in Germany.

"I was able to teach math to GIs. Those were years where men, mostly men, could be drafted without a high school education. So I started teaching math to adults. That's how my whole career path changed," she said.

After the war, the Longs returned to the Midwest. She continued her journey in higher education. She always remembered those who have inspired her along the way.

"I've been really blessed that I've had really great mentors to help me go on the journey," she said.

Long worked in the Kansas City School District, Johnson County Community College and the University of Missouri-Kansas City before she landed at Baker University. Pat Long's predecessor served in the job for 19 years.

"In a way, being a female was an advantage that we didn't really think about because if they had hired a male after our former president, there would have been so much comparison and when I came, they let me be Pat, they let Dennis be Dennis and just let us be who we are," she said.

On that journey, along with her husband of 41 years are two "full-time co-eds." Their two daschunds Toby and Frankie are little rock stars on campus. She said the dogs help make a grueling job just a little easier.

"One of those reasons is that it's such a stressful job. You have so many constituencies: the community, the donors, the alums, the faculty, your staff, your students and sometimes those agendas don't always come together in the best way possible," she noted.

She is grateful for all who have helped her and Baker University succeed.

"We've done some amazing things with great people around us," she said.

On Feb. 8, Long announced she will step down from her post effective June 30.

Copyright 2013 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.


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