Early supporters of Program in Jewish Studies have deep ties to university and ‘feel strongly about giving back’
Sue Baer loves to write, loves children and wants to help others. So it’s no surprise that her newest children’s book tackles a grown-up issue: children with autism.
It’s one of many ways she and her husband, Barry, use their time and resources in the service of others.
The University of Colorado Boulder alumna’s first books were for her grandchildren, a natural outgrowth of her interest in early education and writing. So far, she’s written three commercially published books A Bear in the Air, The Grumbly Rumbly Thunder and Bears, Bears, Everywhere!
“Once I got started, I was hooked,” she notes. She also is co-author of Kidsupport, an interactive workbook for children of deployed soldiers and their counselors.
Sue hopes to publish the book about children with autism commercially, so a wide audience can gain more understanding and empathy for such children. A mother of a child with autism suggested that she write this book, and she is undertaking the daunting task of finding a publisher.
The Baers maintain unusually strong ties with the University of Colorado Boulder. Barry is an alumnus, graduating in 1965 with a degree in accounting and in 1972 with an MBA. For the last decade, Sue has served on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Arts and Sciences.
They have endowed two scholarships in CU-Boulder’s Program in Jewish Studies and were among the program’s earliest and most enthusiastic supporters.
They are quick to qualify that early support. “We became the lead horse for the first donation, the big donation” to the program, Barry says.
“We were the little pebble in the middle of the snowball,” Sue adds.
The university’s commitment to the program and to the program’s secular focus impressed the Baers. “No one branch of Judaism was going to dictate how it was taught,” Sue observes.
The Program in Jewish Studies is grateful for the Baers’ support.
“Sue and Barry Baer are pillars of the Program in Jewish Studies, giving generously of their time, wisdom and collegiality, in addition to providing much-needed financial support,” says Nan Goodman, the program’s director and professor of English.
We also feel very strongly about giving back … We want to support the things we believe in. Our goal is to give it all away before we die.”
“Because of the Baers, the Program in Jewish Studies is able to offer scholarships to undergraduates and graduate students every year and to host one of the best graduation ceremonies on campus. They are vibrant and invaluable members of our extended community.”
Additionally, Barry has served as a trustee for the CU Foundation, which manages the university’s private donations—a funding source that becomes more important to the university as state support for higher education continues to fall.
But the Baers’ philanthropic efforts extend well beyond CU-Boulder.
They donated a treatment room at Clinica Campesina and an early childhood director’s office at the new Jewish Community Center. The couple supports the Emergency Family Assistance Association, Community Food Share and reading programs for children.
Sue served on the search committee for the new rabbi at Congregation Har HaShem. Barry is president of their congregation.
He is treasurer of the neighborhood water district, treasurer of a not-for-profit organization called Towards Justice, which provides advocacy for and legal services to low-wage workers.
He also does paid work for clients for which he is a part-time chief-financial officer.
“So I guess we stay a little busy,” Barry quips.
Staying busy is their habit. After college, Barry became a certified public accountant. He served as a U.S. Army officer for nearly 27 years, retiring at the rank of colonel. He commanded an armored cavalry troop in Vietnam, a finance battalion in Germany, and an airborne finance brigade during the first Gulf War.
After retiring from the Army, he directed the Department of Public Works in the City of Indianapolis.
He is a financial-management consultant and has served as CFO, secretary and treasurer of many public, private and not-for-profit entities.
While Barry served in the Army, Sue worked as a school teacher, then counselor and later as a cooking instructor and food stylist.
Although the Baers spent many years out of Colorado, they enjoy being back in Boulder.
“The Hill was a good place to be,” Barry recalls. As a student, Sue says, “I used to walk home from the library at midnight and never worry about my safety. A big night out was to go to The Sink for a burger and dance at Tulagi. It was a simpler time.”
Jane Butcher, a longtime and major donor to CU-Boulder, was Sue’s sorority pledge mother.
“Our roots are pretty deep here,” Barry observes, adding “I’ve always felt very strong ties to the university.”
Adds Sue, “We also feel very strongly about giving back … We want to support the things we believe in.”
“Our goal is to give it all away before we die.”
For more information on the Program in Jewish Studies, click here. To learn more about the Sue and Barry Baer Scholarship Funds, click here.
Clint Talbott is director of communications and external relations for the College of Arts and Sciences and editor of the College of Arts and Sciences Magazine.