Bellarmine University meant a lot to the late Robert “Bob” Bernauer, and he in turn meant a lot to hundreds, if not thousands, of students. After graduating from Bellarmine in 1971, he managed the university’s Chemistry Lab for 39 years beginning in 1978, serving as a teacher, a tutor, a mentor and a friend.
“Bob was a beloved, almost mythical, figure for all students passing through the sciences,” said Dr. Pat Holt, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry & Physics.
One of those students was Christie Denson Mancinelli ’98. “I can’t even describe what he was to me,” she says. “I consider him first and foremost a dear friend. I loved him very much. He was also a teacher and a mentor. Having been a Bellarmine student himself, he could commiserate with me and the other students about juggling the liberal arts classes with a demanding chemistry major. I honestly can’t imagine Bellarmine without him.”
Following Bob’s death on Aug. 1, 2016, Christie established the Robert Bernauer ’71 Endowed Chemistry Scholarship with a matching gift from her then-employer, Merck and Co., Inc. The scholarship covers tuition and mandatory fees for eligible full-time sophomores, juniors or seniors majoring in Chemistry, with preference given to students who intend to pursue chemistry-based graduate studies and/or a career in chemistry.
“What’s funny is that while I was at Bellarmine we used the Merck Index [an encyclopedia of chemicals, drugs and biologicals], and I remember saying to Bob, ‘Maybe someday I could work at a company like Merck.’ And it happened that I ended up there, as a chemist in their research labs,” Christie says. She currently works in regulatory affairs, managing chemistry, manufacturing, and controls information for Shire Pharmaceuticals, a global leader in serving people with rare diseases. “I do directly attribute Bob’s influence to my career choices.”
The Chemistry Scholarship is based on academic merit, positive engagement and contributions in the Chemistry Department and financial need and is renewable for up to six semesters provided the recipient maintains a 3.0 cumulative GPA at the conclusion of each academic year.
“My hope is that even after I’m long gone, Bob’s name will live on, supporting other students,” Christie says. “I want his name to be said, and for his memory to live on in Bellarmine’s legacy.”