Former dean honored for career at U

by Erin Ghere

Nearly 50 years after the University awarded Richard A. Skok a bachelor’s degree in forestry, the retired professor and administrator received another academic award Wednesday night.
The College of Natural Resources awarded Skok the Outstanding Achievement Award — the University’s highest honor for alumni — for work throughout his 45-year tenure.
Skok was honored by the University for “unusual distinction” in his chosen field, six years after retiring in 1993.
“I feel privileged to have been able to spend my life professionally doing this at an institution that I respect so much,” Skok said.
Beyond a bachelor’s degree, Skok received his master’s and doctorate from the University as well.
Skok left the University for a short time during the Korean War when he joined the military, then taught at the University of Montana for one year until the opportunity to return to Minnesota arose.
He began his career in the 1950s while working as a research assistant and instructor in the School of Forestry, now called the College of Natural Resources. In 1965 he was named a full professor in the college.
After six years as a professor, he continued his rise up the chain of command and joined the School of Forestry’s administration as the assistant director.
After his tenure as assistant director, he served as associate dean, eventually becoming dean of the school.
“His key achievement during his tenure as dean was incorporating other departments into the College of Forestry,” said Mark Abner, director of development in the College of Natural Resources.
It was during Skok’s 19 years as dean of the College of Forestry that the school first included other environmental callings and became the College of Natural Resources.
“It’s quite humbling (to receive the award) knowing there are lots of people who helped along the way,” he said.
Skok still volunteers his efforts with the college. He represents faculty as a member of the College of Natural Resources Alumni Society Board of Directors and is now organizing a reunion of World War II-era University natural resource students.