Fairhaven superintendent Dr. Robert Baldwin named new executive director of MIAA and MSSA

Dr. Robert Baldwin, superintendent of the Fairhaven Public Schools, was named the next executive director of the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association/Massachusetts School Administrators’ Association.

A letter announcing his hiring was distributed to principals and superintendents on Monday afternoon.

“I’m humbled and honored to take on this new responsibility,” Baldwin said in a phone interview. “It’s kind of a perfect fit for me.”

Baldwin, 59, will succeed Bill Gaine, 77, who announced in February he would retire effective Sept. 1. Gaine served as executive director for the past eight years and has been involved with the MIAA since 1979. Baldwin will be the fourth executive director in MIAA history.

“There are big shoes to fill,” he said. “I know that. I don’t intend on thinking I can fill them, other than showing up every day and working as hard as I can for everyone that we serve.”

Baldwin, who was recognized as the 2020-21 Massachusetts Superintendent of the Yearby the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (M.A.S.S.), was a baseball and basketball standout at Fairhaven High and was inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame in 2015.

He played baseball at Springfield College before returning to his hometown to serve as a physical education teacher and middle school vice principal. He coached the Fairhaven High boys basketball team from 1989-2001, when he became the principal at Middleboro High School.

“I probably have had 10,000 hours as an athletic coach, and I know I have as a parent of student-athletes,” said the father of five. “I’ve been a building administrator, a district administrator and a principal in between.”

Baldwin had been named one of two finalists for the position, along with Julie Fabsik-Swarts, president of Blue Tail Consulting. A search committee that included members of the MIAA board of directors conducted “a thorough search.”

“Dr. Baldwin has been referred to as a unifier and has interacted with educational leaders across the state in matters related to educational policy,” the search committee wrote in announcing his hiring. “He has shared the needs of, and advocated for, our educators and students with legislative leaders on Beacon Hill, the Commissioner of Education, and the team at [the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education] .”

Baldwin said the timing was right to move on from his position in Fairhaven, which he has held for 16 years. He noted his time as president of M.A.S.S., which involved working closely with the state legislature and DESE, helped convince him to apply.

“If you love leadership and you see a position like this open that matches where you come from you say ‘Let’s put our hat in the ring for this one,’” Baldwin said. “To be chosen as the [right] person is a challenge I will live up to.”

Baldwin has a Master of Arts in Athletic Administration from the University of Maryland and a Doctorate of Educational Leadership from NOVA Southeastern University. He has served on the board of trustees of the NESCAC and on several M.A.S.S. committees, including the Committee on Racial Equity, Diversity and Inclusion and the State Reopening Plan Working Group.

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