Sports Exec Kiki Baker Barnes to Speak at UNO Commencement

NEW ORLEANS — From the University of New Orleans: 

College sports executive and University of New Orleans alumna Kiki Baker Barnes will serve as the principal speaker at the University’s spring 2024 commencement ceremony, which will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, May 9 at the UNO Lakefront Arena. Baker Barnes is the commissioner of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference, a 10-member conference of historically Black colleges and universities.

Baker Barnes holds both a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate from UNO. She was also a standout basketball player and record-setting triple jumper for the Privateers.

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In 2022, Baker Barnes became the first African American woman commissioner in the history of the GCAC and in any conference in the history of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, an association founded in 1937 that includes more than 250-member institutions.

“We are so excited to welcome Dr. Kiki Baker Barnes back to campus,” said UNO President Kathy Johnson. “Her groundbreaking leadership of the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference and her distinguished career as a university administrator are shining examples to members of our University of New Orleans community. Her work as a coach, mentor and athletic director demonstrates her deep desire to inspire and uplift the next generation of leaders, particularly women. Her message will definitely resonate with the class of 2024.”

Prior to her current position, Baker Barnes spent nine years as president of the GCAC, during which time she navigated the conference through a period of change by recruiting new institutions and enhancing the championship experience for student-athletes.

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Her career includes coaching roles at various colleges and universities, demonstrating her dedication to athlete development. Baker Barnes spent 16 years as director of athletics at Dillard University, where she oversaw significant achievements including national and conference titles, the establishment of new sports teams, and the creation of the university’s first endowed athletic scholarship and sports hall of fame.

A native of Minden, La., she has received recognition and won awards such as the Nell Jackson Nike Executive of the Year and the NACDA Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year. She is actively involved in community service, serving on boards and committees related to sports and athletics administration.

She holds a bachelor’s degree from UNO, a master’s degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and a Ph.D. in educational administration from UNO.

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