George and Carol Bauer, longtime generous benefactors of Washington University in St. Louis, have made a $6 million commitment to establish a new leadership and character development initiative at the university.
The gift will fund the George and Carol Bauer Leaders Academy for the Danforth Scholars Program. The Danforth Scholars Program is one of the university’s signature undergraduate scholarship programs and has helped make a Washington University education possible for more than 650 students since its inception in 1998.
Danforth Scholars are known for their academic excellence, demonstrated leadership in service and strong commitment to community.
“College is a time when many students begin investigating questions of purpose, meaning and identity,” Chancellor Andrew D. Martin said. “The George and Carol Bauer Leaders Academy will help our Danforth Scholars discover their talents and clarify their values as they prepare for careers and lives in service of the greater good.
The Bauers have exemplified ethical leadership throughout their personal and professional lives. … I’m truly grateful for their gift, which will provide value beyond the classroom, benefitting not only our students, but also society at large.Chancellor Andrew D. Martin
“The Bauers have exemplified ethical leadership throughout their personal and professional lives. It is fitting that this leadership academy will bear their name,” Martin said. “I’m truly grateful for their gift, which will provide value beyond the classroom, benefitting not only our students, but also society at large.”
George Bauer, a Washington University alumnus and emeritus trustee, said, “Carol and I believe that effective leadership is one of the key things our country and the world needs, particularly in the coming decades — and it is one of the most significant challenges of the 21st century.
“Enhancing both the innate leadership characteristics in young people and teaching them the mechanics of leadership is critically important. We helped establish a similar program for young business executives at Olin Business School, and we view our latest gift as an opportunity to focus on those leadership characteristics in the undergraduate population,” said Bauer, who earned both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Washington University’s McKelvey School of Engineering in 1953 and 1959, respectively, before beginning a 31-year career with IBM.
The Bauers said their gift was inspired by the leadership of Chancellor Emeritus William H. Danforth, who died Sept. 16, 2020, at age 94, and is a tribute to his life of service to Washington University and to the St. Louis community.
The Danforth Scholars Program also pays tribute to Danforth’s leadership and service. It was established in honor of Danforth, who served as Washington University’s chancellor from 1971 to 1995, and his late wife, Elizabeth Gray Danforth.
While the Danforth Scholars Program already includes some leadership programming, the Bauer Leaders Academy will create many more opportunities for Danforth Scholars.
Among them will be a stipend that allows Danforth Scholars to spend a summer in St. Louis working with an area business, nonprofit or startup or completing a customized leadership project; an alumni-in-residence program that connects Danforth Scholars with alumni who give back to their communities; leadership immersion experiences with local CEOs and community leaders; and a senior capstone presentation.
The Bauers’ gift also will support a full-time director, who will serve as a leadership mentor to Danforth Scholars and coordinate the academy’s four years of programming.
Personally invested in the lives of others
George Bauer, who grew up on a farm in DeSoto, Mo., and was the first in his family to attend college, received a scholarship to attend Washington University. He met Carol when he was student vice president of the Interfaith Council at the university and she was president of the Baptist Student Union at Harris Teachers’ College, now known as Harris-Stowe State University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree. Their first date was at WashU’s Thurtene Carnival.
Carol Bauer, who taught in St. Louis Public Schools after graduation, went on to work with homebound children with disabilities, manage a home-based nursery school, teach French history and raise three children while moving 18 times in the first 25 years of marriage for her husband’s work.
The Bauers have been involved in numerous philanthropic activities that have enabled them to become personally invested in the lives of others. In 1989, they established the Bauer Family Foundation, which focuses on improving education and human health worldwide.
Since 1978, Carol Bauer has contributed extensively to Norwalk Hospital near their home in Wilton, Conn. A member of the hospital’s board for 20 years, she was the first woman elected chair. After going back to school to earn a certificate in clinical pastoral education, she began volunteering in 2002 as a hospital chaplain there, a role she continues to this day.
The Bauers’ commitment to Washington University spans decades. They have provided scholarships for students and, in 2004, established an endowment to provide emergency aid to students experiencing unanticipated financial difficulties.
They also established the George and Carol Bauer Professorship in Organizational Ethics and Governance at Olin Business School in 2007. In 2011, the Bauer Foundation made a gift of $10 million to provide capital support for Olin’s Bauer Hall, which opened in 2014.
In 2016, the Bauers established the George and Carol Bauer Leadership Center at Olin Business School with a $5 million gift. With this gift, they also established the George and Carol Bauer Leadership Fellows Program.
In January 2019, the Bauers made a $5 million gift to establish a named deanship in the School of Medicine. David H. Perlmutter, MD, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs and dean since 2015, is the inaugural George and Carol Bauer Dean of the School of Medicine.
After retiring from IBM in 1987, George Bauer founded GPB Group Ltd., an investment banking and consulting firm, where he is chairman and CEO. He is a member of the university’s New York Regional Cabinet and the Olin Business School National Council.
He received the university’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009, and the Bauers received the Robert S. Brookings Award in 2011 and the Olin Dean’s Medal in 2012. The Bauers also received honorary degrees from the university in 2019.
Just as they became involved with the Bauer Leadership Fellows in Olin Business School, they plan to do the same with the Danforth Scholars in the Bauer Leaders Academy.
“We look forward to getting to know these students and listening to them and learning about their challenges and accomplishments,” Carol Bauer said. “It’s such a privilege to meet young people who are so committed to their education and to determining what their life’s work will be. Interacting with them is a highlight for us.”