After earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1959, Jerry Bayless began teaching in the department as he worked on his master’s degree. Bayless explains how he gained that teaching appointment.
Somewhere along the line when I was a junior, I guess, here, there was a deal at that time where you got your BS degree and if you wanted to stay and go to graduate school, you could teach either full time or part time. And it seemed like the faculty all got along well and I thought, gee that would be great to do that. So, I decided that’s what I would do. So I went in pretty early in my senior year, talked to Skip Carlton, told him what I wanted to do. He said yeah. He knew me then, I hated class. He said yeah, I said I think I kinda like to have you stay, but I don’t know whether I’m going to have any money or not. He hadn’t told me what I got yet. So I went ahead and did some interviewing and went back two or three times and he said I just can’t tell you; I can offer you half time. Well, I was broke. I needed to work full time. If I couldn’t stay here, I was going to take a job somewhere. So I interviewed, I don’t know, three or four places and finally late in the year, I accepted a job with the highway department, in their bridge office in Jeff City. And then, just before commencement, we didn’t take final . . . seniors didn’t take final exams in those days, so I went home, my classes were over with. Went up to Jeff City, I had already gone up to Jeff City and reported to the department, and stuff like that. And he had Kent Roberts call me. And he said, “Skip wants to talk to you. Can you come in to talk to him?” I said well, yeah. So I came back and talked to him. And he said “I got some money, the dean told me I can hire you full time and I would like to do that. Are you still interested?” And I said, “Well Skip, I am, but I can’t do it.” He says “Why not?” And I said “I accepted a job and you told us that if you accept a job, that’s it, you got to take it, no matter what comes along later.” And he says “Who’s it with?” And I told him and he said “Let me see what I can do.” Well I don’t know what he told them, but he was pretty good at BS-ing people. So they contacted me and said that I could work there in the bridge office in the summer and I could come back if I wanted to. And asked me if I wanted to. So he fixed it up, and I don’t know what he told them, but he made up something, I’m sure. But he knew those people pretty well.
So you worked with the highway department in the summer to start TM here in the fall of ‘59?
And you began taking graduate courses too?
And how long did it take you to finish?
It took three years to get a master’s degree. Three years and a summer. It caused me to . . . the deal was after three . . . I started as an instructor, but my official employment date was Sept. 1, 1959, and the deal was you got your master’s degree you got promoted to assistant professor and those three years counted toward tenure . . . toward retirement, because it was full time. And then Skip kept telling me . . . I don’t know why he took a liking toward me . . . but anyway he kept telling me, get your thesis done so I can get you promoted as assistant professor, I want to keep you. And Paul Munger was a year ahead of me and he got his thesis done after, I been here two years and I got promoted and we had a professor come here and he left in the middle of my third year and I ended up teaching four hours, four courses and two of them I hadn’t taught before.
And that is why I didn’t get my thesis done. Well in those days the Board of Curators met on campus in April. And you knew when they were going to meet and you knew your appointment paper would be in the mailbox that next Monday. Well, Skip hadn’t told me anything . . . you know, he was telling me all along get your thesis done and . . . well I picked up my paper, there was a raise, instructor, no assistant professor. So off I went to see Skip, I was pretty upset. He said, “Well, you didn’t get your thesis done.” I said “Yeah, I know. Whose fault was that?”
But he said well, you’re pretty young to be sworn away here, so I said . . . so I said well okay. So I did get my thesis done and maybe . . . that load I had that semester, I just didn’t get it done. But he did pay me over the summer to teach a class so that I could stay and get my thesis done. Well, I thought everything was fine. The next year, that Monday morning, I went in and picked up my paper. There it was, a nice raise, Instructor of Civil Engineering. And I was right there in his office and I went in and said “I’m out of here.” I threw it down on his desk and started out. I’m a leaving. He said “Wait a minute!” He says “What’s going on here?” (Chuckle) I said “Well, look at that.” He looked at it, and I could tell he was really confused. And he said, “Well, there’s been a mistake made. The dean said he’d approve your assistant professorship.” So he says, “Sit down there.” So he called the dean’s office and they had made a mistake.
So that had been the spring of ’63?
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