Bauers donate $20M toward WashU leadership academy; Olin's existing center continues as research hub

  • April 1, 2024
  • By WashU Olin Business School
  • 3 minute read

WashU alumnus George Bauer and his wife, Carol Bauer, have made a $20 million commitment to establish and endow the George and Carol Bauer Leaders Academy at WashU.

The academy is an innovative new initiative that places values-based leadership development at the center of the WashU experience for all students.

This story is adapted from a report in The Record at WashU, supplemented with additional context from Kurt Dirks, director of WashU Olin's Bauer Leadership Center. Read the full report from The Record here.

The academy will offer students opportunities to build leadership skills inside and outside of the classroom, Chancellor Andrew D. Martin said. Leadership, he added, is not about holding office or positions of power, but influencing and energizing others to reach a common goal.

“We have a bold goal to become the nation’s premier university for developing leaders of character and conviction,” Martin said.

Students who participate in Bauer Leaders Academy programs will hone their leadership capabilities, explore their purpose and learn how to lead in service of the greater good.

—Chancellor Andrew D. Martin

Among their previous gifts to WashU, the Bauers, of New Canaan, Connecticut, have contributed more than $15 million for values-based leadership initiatives. Their investments include endowments for the George and Carol Bauer Professorship in Organizational Ethics and Governance at Olin Business School; the George and Carol Bauer Leadership Center; and Olin's Bauer Hall.

The academy is intended to serve all WashU students, regardless of their background or professional path, said Dirks, senior advisor to the chancellor for leadership and Olin's Bank of America Professor of Leadership. He said the academy will provide a campus-wide infrastructure. The initial focus will be on undergraduates, but will serve graduates over time.

"The Bauer Leadership Center will continue to be housed in the business school," Dirks said. "Its main charge is to focus on the business school students and the business community, on promoting values based leadership. That means we are able to operate programs targeted to that audience."

Dirks said the Bauer Leadership Center at Olin will serve as a research-and-development engine for the campus, by supporting leadership-related research and education across campus.

The center's director will be appointed to the academy's leadership advisory board, he said. Dirks—the center's director—is leaving WashU to become dean of the business school at the University of Utah effective July 1.

“If you would have talked about leadership to me when I was an incoming student at WashU, I would have thought about the president of the United States or the chancellor of the university,” said George Bauer, BS 1953, MS 1959, CEO of investment banking and consulting firm GPB Group Ltd. and a former IBM executive. “I would not have thought that a leader is a person who deals with a group of people in a collaborative way to accomplish an objective."

Read the full story about the new Bauer Leadership Academy here.

Pictured at top: Carol Bauer (center) meets with Sean Spinks, director of the Danforth Scholars Program (second from left); Julia Macias associate dean of the Office of Scholar Programs (far right); and Danforth Scholars in the Danforth University Center at Washington University in St. Louis. George and Carol Bauer are committed to helping all WashU students be leaders in their communities and careers. (Photo: Sid Hastings/Washington University)

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