Ferris Baker was born near Cainsville, Missouri. He grew up on a farm and he graduated from Blythdate High School in 1935. He attended Central College in Fayette, Missouri where he majored in sociology and minored in philosophy. He participated in track, debate, and the college orchestra. He was active in the Methodist Church and in 1941, he received his local preacher's license. He furthered his study in ministry by attending Southern Methodist University's School of Theology. Baker earned his M.A. degree in Sociology in 1947 from the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.
He was Associate Director of the Wesley Foundation at Texas A&M College. He left this position in 1949 to became the head of the Bible Chair at North Texas University. Baker also became the director of the Wesley Foundation for North Texas and Texas Woman's University. From 1957 to1959, Baker attended Duke University's postgraduate program in Sociology.
In 1959, Baker accepted a position at Hendrix College. While at Hendrix, Baker organized sociologists from colleges and universities in Arkansas in order to strengthen and develop the discipline. He was a member of the American Association of University Professors and he served as the president of the Hendrix chapter. He designed the major in Sociology at Hendrix. Baker prepared demographic studies in the special needs of youth for medical services for the Arkansas Regional Medical Programs.
He was involved in several community organizations. He was a member of the Arkansas Council on Human Relations, Conway Community Arts Association, and the Faulkner County Center for Aging. He helped to form the Conway Human Relations Council, which organized the first Head Start School for pre-school children. He was active in the Human Services Center of West Central Arkansas, which is now known as Counseling Associates, as a board member, volunteer, and president. In addition, he has served as the chairman of the local United Way and he was the head of the Senior Citizens division. Baker was a volunteer at Conway Regional Medical Center. He is a member of the Kiwanis Club, the Conway Fiddle Band, and theFaulkner County Historical Society.
Baker is a licensed minister in the United Methodist Church. He is an active member of First Methodist Church in Conway. He is a Sunday School teacher for the Open Door, Roundtable, and Forum classes. He is a past chairman of the Arkansas United Methodists' Board of Church and Society, which emphasizes concerns for justice, peace, and goodwill in families, neighborhoods, and communities.
In 1986, Ferris Baker retired from Hendrix as emeritus professor of sociology.
The Ferris C. Baker Sociology Award is presented by the Sociology/Anthropology Department to that senior student with high achievement in the sociology/anthropology major who has demonstrated a commitment to public service.