Former lecturer finds new paths after leaving WU
Former Washington University lecturer Jerome Bauer continues to be active in and around the campus community as he struggles through unemployment to make ends meet.
Bauer left the University when his position as lecturer in the religious studies program was eliminated and replaced with a tenure-track position.
Bauer has continued his role as mentor and teacher through the Cervantes Free University (CFU), an institution he established last year. CFU offers all of the courses Bauer had previously taught at the University. He is currently working to expand and solidify CFU.
“We will be incorporating soon as a Missouri non-profit. There will be a board of trustees and a treasurer. We’d like to expand it a bit and add distance learning. We’ll be looking to a number of people for advice [on the expansion],” Bauer said.
Bauer sees CFU as a model for learning co-ops that are springing up across the nation. After incorporation, the next step for CFU will be to reach out to other faculty.
“I’ve met other people in similar situations [to my own],” Bauer said. “There are wonderful teachers who would be a great resource to the community. They have fallen out of academia.”
Bauer says many of these former lecturers are running book clubs in the St. Louis area and that he will try to promote those clubs.
Bauer is also working on connecting the various cooperative (co-op) communities in St. Louis.
“We are starting another non-profit along the lines of a new co-op network for St. Louis,” Bauer said. “There are many local co-ops in St. Louis, and we need to better coordinate our efforts.”
Bauer says he is interested in involving other local universities with the co-op movement.
“We’re looking to break down the boundaries between elite universities and the community,” he said.
While he has shifted his focus to work off-campus, student activities at the University are still of interest to Bauer. Most recently, he has supported the Student Civic Initiative (SCI).
“I am more active than ever with student groups,” Bauer said. “I support the move away from a neutrality policy. It’s better to have it all out in the open.”
Bauer says he is aiding SCI through outreach to University alumni and the community to raise awareness of SCI’s goals. Most of this outreach has been done through Facebook or posting on the discussion boards at Student Life’s Web site.
Bauer has also become very involved in the campus farm organization, the Burning Kumquat.
“He frequently comes to meetings and offers plenty of good advice and new ideas,” sophomore Ted Erker, a founding member of the Burning Kumquat, said in an e-mail. “He certainly is willing. I think he is a very smart person with strong morals and ideals.”
Bauer hopes to use the Internet to expand his networks and educate the community about his projects. Recently, Bauer has made an effort to utilize Facebook, which he sees as a good means of making preliminary contact with students and other interested parties.
“I’ve been at events where people have introduced themselves to me because they had seen me on Facebook. It helps to first build up a virtual network,” he said.
Bauer plans to expand his networks through MySpace and Znet, a social networking site related to the alternative publication ZMag. He will seek to use these sites to build support for lecturer-policy reform that is not limited to students at the University, but faces logistical challenges in that effort.
“I am also learning to do blogging, but economic issues are constraining my progress in this,” he said.
This fall, he will be teaching in the area at Webster University and Columbia College. He is bringing his “signature” focus class “Cooperative Living, Community Building, and Sustainability” to Webster and hopes to invite University students who have taken the class in past years to get involved with the students at Webster.
At Columbia College, Bauer will teach introductory courses in religious studies and sociology and hopes to teach a course in religion and philosophy as well. His position at Columbia College will be that of a contracted adjunct lecturer.
While he is excited about teaching at Columbia College, Bauer was informed that he would have no career path there.
“Columbia College was upfront about the job being low-paying and without benefits. But I told them that’s not what I’m most interested in,” he said. “I’m not interested in the political stuff you have to do to be a big-shot academic. I want to do honest work. College teaching is the most honest work I’ve found, and it’s the work I love.”
Despite having confirmed employment for the fall semester, Bauer says he is still facing economic woes.
“I’m in a very insecure position. Like many people in this country, I’m wondering how I’m going to make ends meet,” he said.
However, Bauer says he is still waiting for a contract from Washington University, for which he has been appealing since his dismissal, and would agree to begin teaching at the University again. Some students would also like to see him return.
“Jerome Bauer, despite his questionable dismissal from the University, has not stopped being an active and respected voice around the Wash. U. community,” sophomore Stefan Santiago, who is involved in CFU, said in an e-mail. “He is contributing to the community in a very special way: by opening his doors to anybody and promoting the exchange of knowledge and ideas.”
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