Dear Students, Student Families, Alumni, and Friends of History,
As we finish up this spring quarter and the end of the academic year, it is worth noting how extraordinary and challenging this past year has been. I want to express my sincere appreciation to our students for their perseverance as they have navigated learning largely online and often in isolation (or near isolation) from their peers and friends during a time of great anxiety. I am personally amazed this quarter at how much energy and enthusiasm my students have expressed for learning about difficult and complex issues even after such a long and trying year. Kudos to them! I also want to acknowledge the enormous amount of time and energy that my faculty colleagues have put into their teaching – whether in their “in-person” Zoom classes or their asynchronous teaching videos and learning opportunities. Thank you for all that you have done! I hope that students, staff, and faculty will find some time and opportunities for decompressing this summer and spending quality time with family and friends, especially now that so many people in the United States are vaccinated.
Our biggest news for the end of this academic year is that Professor David Skinner is retiring. In his 51 years at Santa Clara University, he has worn many “hats.” First and foremost, he helped to establish the study of Africa and West Asia in the History Department. Given his expertise and generosity with students, it is not surprising that he was the first faculty advisor for the Muslim Student's Association (MSA), a position he held for many years, and the co-founder as well as one of the directors of the Arabic, Islamic, and Middle Eastern Studies (AIMES) interdisciplinary minor. Professor Skinner has also long organized programs at SCU regarding Islamic studies and West Asian politics.
David Skinner served as the History Department Faculty Senate Council representative for many years and then as Faculty Senate President, during which time he chaired the faculty committee that created the current governance system. In addition to his various roles on university and college committees, David Skinner has also contributed to the Department of History in innumerable ways, including serving as the Phi Alpha Theta Advisor and Historical Perspectives Advisor. He has played a particularly valuable role in mentoring and advising many Black and Muslim students at SCU. During the BEFORE times, when we were not living during a pandemic and had classes in person, it was not unusual for David to have multiple students stop by during office hours.
David Skinner’s reputation in his field is reflected in his leadership positions and his extensive scholarly work. He was, for example, a founding member of both the Mande Studies Association (MANSA) of the African Studies Association in 1986 and the Africa Borderland Research Network (ABORNE) in 2007. He has authored 15 articles and chapters as well as one monograph, and co-authored two books (one forthcoming) as well as 7 articles and chapters. He has also co-edited two volumes. In addition to all of this work, he has contributed 5 entries for The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as well as published many reviews of other scholarly works. Recognition for his scholarship has resulted in awards and fellowships by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Maybelle McLeod Lewis Memorial Fund, and the Social Science Research Council and American Council of Learned Societies.
Listing some of David’s accomplishments doesn’t do justice to the ways that he has contributed to the SCU community. I will miss having him as my “across the hall” department neighbor and I will miss our many chats in between classes and meetings.
Although COVID-19 is preventing us from having a proper retirement party this spring, we are planning on organizing a party in the fall. In the meantime, I want to express a huge thank you to David for all he has done to make SCU and the History Department a better place. I also want to congratulate him again on being granted the title Professor Emeritus, a huge honor that is very well deserved!
Best wishes to all of you,
Amy E. Randall, Professor and Department Chair, and Associate Director for the Center for the Arts and Humanities