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Campus & Community

From Living and Learning to Living and Teaching

Honors College Scholar-in-Residence Spends Semester in Residence Hall Digs

By Karen Shih ’09

Visiting professor Gero Bauer sits in front of Anne Arundel Hall

Visiting Professor Gero Bauer is the Honors College scholar-in-residence for the Fall 2021 semester—the first since the COVID-19 pandemic halted the program for two years.

Photo by John T. Consoli

When it comes to the fastest commute to class, Visiting Professor Gero Bauer has every faculty member at the University of Maryland beat.

“I just go downstairs from my apartment and I get to my first class of the day,” he said.

And that’s not on Zoom—he’s in a classroom teaching Honors Humanities (HH) students, thanks to an unique lodging arrangement at Anne Arundel Hall.

Bauer is the Honors College scholar-in-residence for the Fall 2021 semester—the first since the COVID-19 pandemic halted the program for two years. He had a choice: a stipend to find his own housing in the area, or the use of the only residence-hall faculty apartment on campus. He chose the latter.

“I wanted to immerse myself in what life on campus is like,” Bauer said. “I get a coffee at the student union every day and take my reading to sit at Hornbake Plaza, enjoying the buzz of everyone around.”

Bauer is teaching two classes this semester: An HH course called “Queer Outlooks in Contemporary Theory and Fiction,” and an English class called “Queer Modernisms.” Both are small, with an enrollment of 10 to 12, giving him an opportunity to closely engage with each student and tailor the classes to their interests. A scholar of LGBTQ activism in Germany, Bauer also shares his perspectives on the differences and similarities in queer politics between the U.S. and his home country.

HH Director Randy Ontiveros said, “We put a lot of emphasis in the program on giving students a global perspective on the humanities and why they matter in today’s world. In terms of what Gero teaches, who he is and where he’s coming from, it’s great to have him with students in this living and learning environment.”

Bauer is the latest faculty member in the Honors College’s visiting scholar program, which dates back to 1992 and counts a Pulitzer Prize winner among its national and international participants. The UMD English department’s partnership with Tübingen University in Germany, where Bauer teaches, has an even longer history, starting in the 1970s.

At UMD, Bauer has embraced campus life—a major adjustment from the medieval university towns where he previously studied and taught. Without a car, he gets around on foot, by bike or Shuttle-UM, and he frequents the Stamp or Route 1 restaurants for meals, including College Park institution the Bagel Place. He’s watched movie screenings and attended a talk by actress Dominique Jackson hosted by Student Entertainment Events and participated in the most quintessential American college pastime: a Terps football game.

“It was fun to see things I only knew from TV or movies, like cheerleaders and the marching band,” he said. “I don’t really know the rules of the game, but seeing how the students and parents and alumni were all wearing team colors was fun.”

Back in Anne Arundel Hall, Bauer does have a few perks as a faculty member. Living in an apartment, he doesn’t have to share a bathroom, and he has his own kitchen. He’s found it easy to settle in and said that the first-year students who live in his building are respectful of his space, treating him no differently than anyone else there.

“Maybe they think I’m just another student,” Bauer joked.

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