Baillargeon takes on many roles in lifetime



By Sarah Wojcik

Sandwiched between growing up in a small Canadian town to working as a full-time professor at Oakland University, Claude Baillargeon’s life story has the potential to be made into a riveting novel or movie.

From graduating undergrad in photography at Ryerson University in 1981, to working as a French language monitor for professors in the Yukon Territory, to being a roulette dealer at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s Gambling Hall, to taking a six-month, 7,000 mile road trip in a Volkswagon van from the Yukon to the Yukatán Peninsula, to exploring Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras, to living in Paris, one may be pressed to ask: What hasn’t he done?

Professor Baillargeon received his MFA from the School of the Art Institue of Chicago in 1989 and his Ph.D in art history from the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2002.

He acquired his current position at Oakland through job listings for a historian of photography or film.

A Canadian native, Baillargeon was unfamiliar with Michigan geography.

“I knew well, of course, Rochester, New York, but didn’t know what Rochester, Michigan was. So I got my atlas out and I went, ‘Oh, look at that! It’s not very far! Maybe I could drive,'” he said.

Now going into his ninth year of commuting from his home in Canada to Oakland University, Baillargeon has made some great sacrifices to do what he loves.

During the school week you will find Baillargeon in an apartment near downtown Rochester, which makes commuting more convenient, but a few times out of the month, Baillargeon will make the four-hour trek back home.

Travelling through cities such as Port Huron, Sarnia and London, Ontario, Professor Baillargeon has his commute down to a science. He has been fortunate enough to have his classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, which commuting easier.

With such dedication to his profession and the strong connections he’s formed in his classrooms, students agree that Professor Baillargeon is a wonderful addition to the OU community.

Students who have attended his classes have nothing but positive things to say and each one has left with a new sense of interest for the art field:

“Professor Baillargeon’s teaching style was very engaging. It was a lecture, and I took more notes than probably any other class,” Colleen Campbell, an alumni who studied history of photography, said. “He is not only very knowledgeable of the material, but his passion for it made me feel more like a kid at story time (than a student).”

“Taking Art History 101 with Claude was one of the best decisions I have ever made here at Oakland,” said Danielle Mitchell, a political science major. “He is a fantastic professor and has opened me up to the world of art.”

Baillargeon also curated an exhibition called Revolutionizing Cultural Identity: Photography and the Changing Face of Immigration, which was first shown at OU.

This exhibition is now being presented at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 during the summer months.  For more information on this exhibit, go to