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Friday, November 27, 2020


Yale Law School Mourns the Loss of Robert C. Baker ’56 B.A., ’59 LL.B.

Robert and Christina Baker cut the ribbon at the ceremonial opening of The Robert C. and Christine Baker Hall in 2018. Also pictured from left to right: Sterling Professor of Law and former Dean Robert C. Post, Yale Law School Dean Heather K. Gerken, and Yale University President Peter Salovey.

The Yale Law School community is mourning the loss of Robert C. Baker ’56 B.A., ’59 LL.B., a real estate developer and philanthropist whose generous gift returned residential living to the Law School with the opening of the Robert C. and Christina Baker Hall in 2018.

Mr. Baker, who died on November 22, 2020 at the age of 85, founded and was chairman and chief executive officer of the National Realty Development Corp., one of the nation’s largest privately-owned real estate development companies. Baker was also an active and dedicated philanthropist, who along with his wife, served on the boards of numerous institutions. 

In 2013, Baker and his wife announced an extraordinary gift of $25 million that would launch a successful campaign to transform the Law School campus by acquiring a building on Tower Parkway. The gift enabled the first permanent physical expansion of the Law School since 1931 when the Sterling Law Building was completed. In September 2018, the Law School officially dedicated The Robert C. and Christina Baker Hall at a special ceremony with Dean Heather K. Gerken and Yale University President Peter Salovey. Located just across the street from Sterling, Baker Hall serves as an academic, social, and residential hub for the Law School, creating a dynamic and immersive educational experience for the community.

“Robert Baker was a brilliant, visionary man who embodied the very best of Yale Law School,” said Dean Heather K. Gerken. “Baker Hall has transformed the school. His legacy is a living one — the generations of students who will live and learn under the same roof, thanks to him. We will never forget the debt we owe him.”

A graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School, Baker also established the Nathan Baker Professorship of Law in honor of his father. The Baker family has strong ties to Yale: son Nelson Baker graduated from Yale College in 1985 and Yale Law School in 1988; daughter Ashley Baker earned a B.A. from Yale in 2004 and a J.D. in 2007; and Baker’s brother, Gerald Baker, is a member of Yale Law School’s Class of 1967.