Dr. Wallace “Wally” Baines was a native of Derby, Conn., and a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard (and would be referred to fondly as “The Maj” during his time at Norwich). Following his service, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education and became a public school teacher in Arizona. He was nearly finished with his doctorate in education from Boston University when he came to Norwich in 1960 and became a pioneer in the university’s commitment to physical fitness and health.
President Harmon hired Baines to establish, for the first time, Norwich’s undergraduate curriculum in health, physical education, and recreation. He served as head of the physical education department for many years. In addition to establishing the undergraduate PE program, he created the graduate program in athletic administration in 1974.
His commitment to the “total man” extended beyond the classroom, too. Intramural sports such as boxing were an integral part of his vision for physical education beginning his first year on campus. In 1966, he took on the added responsibility of helping to run the boys’ summer camp that was conducted on campus. Donning an additional hat of “Coach,” he started the lacrosse program in 1969 and the cross-country program in 1974.
In partnership with legendary football coach Joe Sabol, Baines served as a major catalyst for the growth of NU athletics in the late 20th century, as well as a mentor to generations of Norwich students. Coaches Baines and Sabol also helmed efforts to expand and improve the playing fields on campus.
“The Maj” was selected as a Charles A. Dana Professor in 1975 in recognition of his groundbreaking excellence, and in 1983, he became head of the Division of Education, what was an academic term for what is now known as College (i.e. College of Liberal Arts – COLA). He was inducted into the NU Athletic Hall of Fame in 1987 and retired a much beloved campus figure one year later. His 28-year career perfectly exemplified Norwich values. Wally Baines passed away in 2012.
Since his time, the programs that he instituted have only grown and become more successful. Norwich has won 10 GNAC men’s cross country team titles since 1999, including the last three. The women have won three of the last four GNAC team titles. In lacrosse, the Norwich women won four of the first five GNAC women’s lacrosse titles, including three straight from 2010-2012, and the men won the GNAC title in 2013.