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Chico State

Fond Farewell: Former Student Development Director Cleo Bauer

Stars shine above Trinity Hall.
Jason Halley/University Photogra

Cleo (Bash) Bauer, who served Student Affairs for nearly 20 years, passed away January 23. She was 80.

Born January 9, 1943, in Minden, Nebraska, she moved with her family to Boulder, Colorado as a child. With parents who both had high school educations, she knew college was her destiny, so she saved dimes, rolled them in paper, and deposited them at the bank for a college savings account. She earned a bachelor’s degree in art and interior design from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, and developed a love of higher education that would lead her to four California State Universities and Cornell University.

Her career began at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1965 as a student activities advisor, then moved on to Cal State LA before Bauer accepted a job at Chico State as director of student development in 1968. Colleagues remember her two decades of service as a time marked by her professionalism, passion, and enthusiasm.

Bauer was one of several young, dynamic administrators who began on campus around the same time, said retired staff member Caroline Langen. She was brimming with experience, energy, and new ideas—one of which seemed radical but proved to be a “smashing success.”

“She and Noele [Winans] the director of Career Planning and Placement, hatched an idea. They would split their assignments—each would work half time in their regular assignment, and then half time in the other’s,” Langen recalled. “We all thought it was quite odd and called it ‘their switcheroo.’ But they were very enthusiastic and persuasive with their superiors, and our doubts were in vain. Each made contributions to the other’s office, the changes were very positive, and their friendship survived, too!”

In 1987, Bauer left Chico State for a job as director of the Student Union at Fresno State and eventually reached what she considered the pinnacle of her career, as a director of Willard Straight Hall at Cornell University in New York. She eventually returned to Fresno State as assistant director of academic services for student-athletes and retired in 2005.

Bauer had a lifelong love of the outdoors and an adventurous spirit that led her to destinations around the world, from the Alaskan wilderness in a minivan to twice summitting Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. She was active in her community, including serving on the Board of Directors of the Education Employees Credit Union, an active member of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Fresno, and volunteering at Read Fresno, the Boys & Girls Club, Holy Cross Center for Women, and the League of Women Voters. And she was a member of the Fresno Fiber Arts Guild and a gourmet group, and an advocate for historical and environmental preservation.

She is survived by her spouse, Dominic Papagni, stepchildren Catherine Papagni-Terrill, Dominic Papagni, and Natalie Papagni; and stepgrandchildren Catarina, Victoria, Sophia, Dominic, Nicholas, and Sasha; niece Tiffany Bidne; and great-nieces Anastasia and Andrea; and great-nephew Simon.

A celebration of life will be held April 8 at 11 a.m. at Unitarian Universalist Church at 2672 E. Alluvial Avenue in Fresno. In lieu of flowers, memorial remembrances can be made to the Chico State Annual Fund.

The University flag will be lowered Friday, April 7, in her memory.