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A very special professor at Wisconsin-Eau Claire retires, Dr. Steve Baumgardner

A very special professor at Wisconsin-Eau Claire retires, Dr. Steve Baumgardner

I had the privilege of taking Dr. Steve Baumgardner for Social Psychology at UWEC, and I’m not sure what I enjoyed more: his personality, teaching style, or the class itself. I never wanted to miss his class as it was interesting, entertaining, and educational. Learning can be fun, and he had much to do with it.

Quick story: I remember some years ago, sitting in my Social Psychology class, when Steve talked about the major reasons current students attend college. Steve asked the class why they were involved in higher education to gain an informal poll. It seemed appropriate for our social psychology course, and I was interested in hearing the results.

To begin, he asked the class how many of them were in school “to party,” and roughly 20 hands went up. Very few of us were surprised at this result. Next, he asked how many were looking for a spouse – about 12 hands appeared. About ten students responded when he asked about not knowing what else we wanted to do after high school. Next, he asked “to get a degree to get a good job,” and about 25 hands went up. No surprise there. Lastly, he asked the class how many were here “to learn,” and I raised my hand. I quickly looked around, as my hand was the only one raised. I think he was surprised, too, and nodded to me to say there’s nothing wrong with having a strong desire to learn. At that moment, I realized this was the first time he had conducted such a poll, and my guess told me he was surprised at the results. I’m guessing, too, that he probably expected more students to say they were here to “learn” and have a strong “thirst for knowledge.” That would not be the only time he was surprised while teaching at the university.

I'm sad to hear Professor Baumgardner passed away in 2017. What a great man and a dedicated and effective educator he was. May he rest in peace. 

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