Otto Bauer, who spent half of his 40-year career in higher education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, died Oct. 5 in Iowa City.
Bauer, who was 81, served as UNO's vice chancellor for academic affairs from 1979 to 1995, then taught communication courses at UNO for five years.
His son Eric said Bauer suffered a cardiac arrest in September and died 16 days later in hospice care. Bauer was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1983 and fought its progression for the next 30 years.
Bauer, who specialized in speech, debate and communication, received his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees at Northwestern University in Illinois.
He wrote a textbook, “Fundamentals of Debate,” that was published in 1966 and widely used in high school and college debate classes.
He was a pilot in the Air Force. His career in teaching and administration included stints at the Air Force Academy; the University of California, Berkeley; Bowling Green State University; the University of Wisconsin-Parkside; and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“It was his passion,” Eric Bauer said of his father's career. “He never came home angry about anything that happened.”
NU President J.B. Milliken described Bauer as “always thoughtful, considerate, funny and fully committed to UNO.”
Milliken served as NU corporation secretary and vice president for external affairs during the last part of Bauer's time at UNO.
Bauer's humor was evident in his self-published book, titled “Lower Moments in Higher Education.”
In it, he described a Wisconsin chancellor snoring at a gathering and recalled gaffes in academic writing. For example, a supervisor evaluated a colleague as “below average and yet close to outstanding.”
Deborah Smith-Howell, dean of graduate studies at UNO, said Bauer was an excellent teacher after he stepped down as vice chancellor.
“The students loved him,” Smith- Howell said. “I think they just sensed his genuineness and his caring. And he really knew what he was talking about.”
Bauer and his wife, Jeanette, were married 57 years and had two sons.
In addition to his wife and son Eric, both of Iowa City, survivors include son Steven of Belvedere, Calif.; a sister, Darlene Cramsey of Elgin, Ill.; and four grandchildren.
A celebration of Bauer's life will take place Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Kirkwood Room next to Lensing Funeral Service in Iowa City.
Memorials may be made to the Bauer-Erickson Scholarship Fund through the NU Foundation.