After completing high school at Orchard Park Central in upstate New York, Dr. Barker attended the State University of New York at Buffalo where he earned B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Sociology. As an undergraduate he served as a research volunteer conducting family surveys for a study examining parent-child relations in families. Shortly after entering graduate school he was invited to collaborate on an investigation of an environmental disaster known as “Love Canal,” a toxic waste site located in Niagara Falls, NY. He conducted interviews with families in the Love Canal area, focusing on their efforts to cope with this unprecedented disaster. While attending graduate school Dr. Barker served as a graduate assistant at the Center for the Study of Human Groups and at the Multidisciplinary Center for the Study of Aging. As a graduate student his areas of concentration included; group dynamics, leadership, stress and coping, statistics and qualitative research methods. For his doctoral dissertation he investigated the processes of emergent leadership and cultural evolution in groups. Throughout graduate school Dr. Barker served as an adjunct instructor at SUNY/Buffalo, Fredonia State College, Jamestown Community College, and the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford.
Following graduate school Dr. Barker accepted a tenure track position in the Department of Sociology at Gannon University, receiving tenure in 1990. He has served as Chairperson for the Social Services Department and continues to serve as Program Director of Sociology. During 2006 and 2007 he participated in the development of a new Ph.D. program in Organizational Learning and Leadership and was appointed Program Director in August, 2007. Currently he serves as Chairperson for the Department of Social and Organizational Studies which includes the Ph.D. Program for Organizational Leaning and Leadership. During his tenure at Gannon he was elected chairperson of several standing committees, including the Faculty Research Committee and the University Review Council. In 1999 he was elected President of the Faculty Senate. He has also served as a working group chairperson for three Middle States Commission reviews. His community service activities have included survey research for the United Way of Erie County, research analyst for the Mayor’s Task Force, program evaluator and case manager for the Sarah Reed Partial Hospitalization Program, workshops on stress and coping, and Speakers’ Bureau participant for agencies in the Erie area. He has presented numerous papers at academic conferences in the areas of group dynamics and stress and coping. His most recent publications include; Self-selection for Stressful Experiences, appearing in the journal Stress and Health; Evaluation of the House of Healing: An Alternative to Female Incarceration, appearing in the Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, and Antecedents of Stressful Experiences: Depressive Symptoms, Self-Esteem, Gender, and Coping, appearing in the International Journal of Stress Management. In the spring of 2007 he was awarded a sabbatical leave to continue his research on stress and coping. In 2009 he became a member of the Editorial Board for the International Journal of Stress Management. His current research focuses on the impact of personal resources and social identity as resistance factors in the occurrence of stressful life events, chronic stress, and daily hassles.
Dr. Barker resides in Jamestown, NY with his wife, Bonnie and their cocker spaniel, Sadie. He has two daughters, Faith and Jessica and is the proud grandparent of three; Jonas, Marla and Kylen.