Welcome Janell Bauer:
New Faculty Member Brings Journalism, Gender Studies Experience

By Kayla Wilkinson

Getting married, having a baby, moving across the country and starting a new job hit at least eight major stressors on the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory.

And it’s also a summary of Janell Bauer’s past year.

But when you’re following your passion for building life and career, those are chances worth taking.

Bauer is a new assistant professor in Chico State J&PR. She comes to the program from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., where she taught PR, gender studies and organizational communication.

Bauer began her education as an English major at the University of Pacific, where a class with an inspiring professor and her love for writing led her to change her field of study to journalism, Bauer said.

As an undergrad, Bauer honed her editing skills working full-time at the copy desk and as an arts and entertainment writer at The Pacifican. She later became editor-in-chief of the newspaper during her last semester of undergraduate studies.

Following graduation Bauer took a copy-editing job at Lodi News-Sentinel. When she was worn out from the late-night deadlines, she went to work in internal communications at Intuit, a software company in the Silicon Valley.

“It had a lot of elements of writing, working with people and building content that would help employees without the deadline stress that newspapers have,” Bauer said.

Bauer also did public relations and marketing work for a small assistive technology company that developed products for people with severe vision loss.

She had many roles and responsibilities in the company, but one particular task was leading focus groups that brought in users to talk about its products.

“The thing I’ve always loved about doing PR work is the creative elements, the writing and connecting with publics,” Bauer said. “It’s exciting and allows you to feel like your work matters to people.”

Picture of Janell Bauer

From the experience she gained working in the Silicon Valley, she then decided to seek her Ph.D at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Her research and dissertation focused on power and control in organizations through communication, Bauer said. She was specifically looking for how people experience grief and loss in an organization when traditionally emotions are not seen as a professional characteristic.

“I looked at how people navigated who they were as a professional with all of a sudden having all these grief-related experiences and how that bleeds into work,” Bauer said.

Bauer joined the faculty of James Madison University in 2010. While there, she not only taught, but was director of Shout Out!, a student-run feminist blog on campus. Bauer came to Chico because it gave her the opportunity to do two things she loved: Teaching and working in public relations. It also gets her closer to her Bay Area family.

In her first semester at Chico State, Bauer is teaching JOUR 211, “Women, Men & the Media,” and JOUR 341, “Writing for Public Relations.” She’s also conducting external review of Tehama Group Communications as part of J&PR’s upcoming re-accreditation process. Bauer keeps gender dynamics of the public relations and news industries in mind as she helps prepare students for post-graduation careers.

“I’m thinking really critically about how you prepare women, in particular to, be successful in this field,” Bauer said. “I don’t mean that in the expense of men or for women to get ahead of men, but for men to be successful and for women to be successful.”

If you get the chance to take a course from Bauer, be prepared to think in ways you might not have before, she said. She emphasizes the need for an open mind and readiness to leave your comfort zone to take her classes.

“You have to come in willing to say ‘things may not be the way I thought they were’,” Bauer said. “Sort of get a little uncomfortable with the way things are.

Bauer also stresses the importance of professional communication writing, she said. She wants to work with students to create strong writing even for elements as small as composing an email.

“After this semester I hope I won’t get any more emails from students that aren’t addressed to anyone and that don’t contain any contextual information,” Bauer said.

In spring 2015 Bauer will be co-adviser of Tehama Group Communications, Chico State’s student-managed public relations firm, and learning to supervise PR internships. Once she gets to know the PR capstone well, Bauer will step in and take the lab as sole adviser in future semesters.

On campus, Bauer can be found in Tehama 347 with her office door open, a Jenny Lewis poster hanging on her wall and the Aretha Franklin Pandora station playing on her computer.

She shares her Chico home with partner Heath, son Quinn and beloved pooch Olive.