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Klaus Jaeger

Professor of German

Klaus Jaeger

Those who know Klaus Jaeger well know he is a baker of fine breads, using four simple ingredients-flour, water, salt, and yeast-to create tasty, aromatic loaves. Similarly, four simple passions-love of language, love of literature, love of teaching, and love of sports-have provided the recipe for a career at Juniata that began in 1972 with a one-year appointment to teach German.

"I had heard of Huntingdon because Joan Strait, the wife of a colleague, grew up here," Klaus says. "By total coincidence, my wife, Ellin, and I now own the house Joan grew up in."

Coincidence also played a role in Klaus' eventual path to Juniata. Born in Kiel, Germany, Klaus studied literature at the University of Kiel and spent his junior year abroad. While studying at England's University of Exeter, he met an American student, Ellin Bliss, from Antioch College. They parted ways after the year abroad, but stayed in touch, and in 1963 Klaus immigrated to the U.S. "I came over on an Italian freighter, which you could do in those days," he laughs. "The older generation of my family was aghast that I would leave, but my economic situation was such that only through education could I get the opportunity."

Klaus and Ellin were reunited at Ohio State University,where Klaus earned his master's degree in German literature and Ellin earned a master's degree in social work. The couple married in 1964 in Columbus.

Klaus first job was as an instructor at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pa. in 1965. He entered a doctoral program at the University of Massachusetts, an endeavor he would later complete at Penn State in 1989. While jobs as language professionals were plentiful in the '60s, by 1972 professorial positions were scarce. Klaus accepted an offer to teach German at Juniata. "It was a gamble of sorts because it was only for a year," Klaus says.

Apparently, the gamble paid off. Klaus' longtime service to the College includes spearheading the introduction of the Dartmouth Method of language instruction, which emphasizes spoken language in real-life situations and familiarity with the culture of the country being studied.

Klaus also has proven to be a model of innovation on Juniata's athletic fi elds. With alumnus Geoff Clarke '75, Klaus started the Juniata soccer program, serving as the team's fi rst coach for more than a decade. "I like to project a cool demeanor," Klaus says of his coaching persona. "But inside I am a volcano-I get very excited." When faculty commitments became too much he steppeddown and assisted John Mumford, and then Scott McKenzie from 1997 to 2003.

"The students love him and the soccer athletes loved him and you really get that from our alumni, they talk about him like he's a saint," says John Mumford, library director. "He can go from being very laid back to fiery in a matter of seconds when he's watching us play."

Klaus did not confi ne his athletic endeavors to soccer, however. He also coached tennis and even worked with the football team as a "kicking consultant." His self described last hurrah in soccer was organizing, with Trustee Christoph Schwemmlein, a tour of Germany with the soccer team. He also helped start youth soccer in the area and the soccer program at Huntingdon's high school.

As an expert baker, Klaus knows that things do not rise without the right ingredients, a principle he has applied to helping raise funds for a scholarship he and Ellin endowed (the Max Bliss-Angus Karns scholarship) initially by donating Klaus' award for winning the Beachley Distinguished Professor Award in 1992.

"At Juniata, the openness between faculty and students means you can strike lifelong friendships between young and old. Where else could you get that?" he asks.

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