Charles B. Skinner, USF’s former University Evaluator for the Office of Admissions, passed away Friday, March 19, 2010 at the age of 70. During his 31 years at USF, he helped students find their path towards successful lives. He would not only help students get into USF, but he would assist them with anything they needed to successfully graduate. Skinner also played the organ at their Graduation Commencement Ceremonies. Being an organist was one of Charles Skinner’s favorite roles at USF.
USF student Paul Roccanova knows Charles Skinner best through his father, who knew Skinner for years, working as a Facility Engineer at USF. Roccanova said, “I was told by my Father that he was an intellectual man with a very cunning and sophisticated way of speaking. He liked to speak to people by way of story, which you just don’t see many people do anymore.”
Roccanova also worked with Skinner directly, when he transferred into the university. “He helped me out with organizing my transcripts when I transferred to USF. I still remember his advice and his soft voice. He helped make my education here at USF possible.” Roccanova said.
Every day on the job, Mr. Skinner never failed to show up to work wearing a blazer, classic-tie, and reading glasses on a chain around his neck, while sporting his white-haired buzz cut. He was always pleased to show up to work early every morning, ready to help students. Charles’s sister, Luanne Scroggins, was able to write a letter to USF staff, describing his life as being one full of passion for helping and educating the minds of the youth.
Mr. Charles Skinner started working at the University of San Francisco in the summer of 1979 and has been awarded for his time and dedication to the university. Born on April 20, 1940 in Wailuku on the island of Maui in Hawaii, his parents Franklyn and Lucille Skinner both served as educators. Charles’s father, Franklyn Skinner, was the Superintendent of Public Schools for the islands of Maui, Moloki and Lanai. Upon graduating from Baldwin High school in 1958, Charles went on to study at the University of Virginia and Columbia University, where he received two degrees.
Mr. Skinner was a very educated man and carried on the family legacy of serving the people as an educator. He started his career by serving as the Headmaster at the American School in Leysin, Switzerland, where he lived for ten years. He then moved back to his hometown in Maui, Hawaii, where he taught for one year at the same high school he graduated from, Baldwin High. It was after teaching back in Hawaii that he decided to make his way out to the Bay Area, where he would stay for the remaining 31-years of his life. It is here at USF, where he found his home amongst such educated, talented and grateful students and staff members.
The people who worked around Mr. Skinner always saw him as a pleasant individual who enjoyed everything that life had to offer. Kate Carter, the Assistant Director of Transfer Admissions became very close to him, as they shared an office together.
Christina Sanchez, the associate Dean for Student Development and Assistant Vice President at University Life, worked closely with Charles Skinner for six-years. She loved the way he blended a powerful and direct work ethic with a light-hearted way of approaching each situation. Sanchez said, “ Everyone admired his wit and his humor and it really shined through when he connected with students.” Sanchez recalls one of his last days at USF, when he greeted every incoming student interested in coming to USF with a smile and a handshake. “He was just that kind of man. Every student wanted to talk to him because he connected with them so naturally,” said Sanchez.
Morgan Blein is another student that was shocked by the death of Charles Skinner. He worked with Mr. Skinner helping international students get their credits in order to transfer from schools in other countries. Working as a Student Assistant at International Student Services is where he truly got to know Mr. Skinner on a personal basis. Blein, being a transfer student from France, worked one-on-one with Mr. Skinner and saw him as a mentor. “He was always so helpful and understanding. He was a man who was always on top of his work and his friendships. Charles was dedicated to his cause, which was helping the youth at this university.
“Anyone who came across Mr. Skinner could not forget him. He had such a kind way about him, and you could tell he cared about what he was doing and who he was talking to at all times. Not many people are that involved and happy in every moment they live,” said USF alumni Justin Harris.
Charles Skinner started out as the International Students Admissions Coordinator here at USF, and had a passion for helping each and every student get to where they needed to go in life. He must have loved helping people so much that he went from only directing international students in their academic careers, to evaluating and advising the whole university.
Claudio Cuchiarelli, President of USF’s Board of Trustees said “I know it will bring a smile thinking about him and his meaningful contributions that touched so many students as they embarked on a path of an education to change the world. We truly miss him.”
One of Charles Skinner’s passions was traveling, and experiencing the diversity the world has to offer. One of his favorite places in the world was Spain, where he watched the bulls run in Pamplona, and walked across the bridges of the Guadalquivir River in Andalucía. He would always encourage students to study in abroad in Spain. One student who followed his advice and went across the Atlantic Ocean to Seville, Spain, brought back a souvenir poster, which advertised a bullfight. It showed, “Charles B. Skinner” as the name of the bullfighter who would go up against the ‘beast’ that destroyed all matadors. The poster hung in his office next to different reminders of the places he and those he loved had been to.
Charles Skinners was also a beloved family man. His sister Luanne Scgroggins wrote in her letter, “He is survived by his sisters, Luanne Scroggins of Kansas and Nancy (John) Sharples of Canada; his niece, Laura (Bill) Chauvin of Kansas; three grandnieces, Hillary, Hannah and Holly; and one grand nephew, Hayden, also of Kansas. Charles is also survived by his “ohana” at USF. He will be dearly missed by many students, friends and colleagues.” The family of Charles Skinner suggests contributions to USF c/o the Charles Skinner Memorial Fund or the SF/SPCA.
For many of us, the loss of Charles B. Skinner is a shock and tragic surprise. However, his life was one that was full of travel, adventure, higher education and music. Those who have been to the commencement ceremonies in the past can always remember the sounds his fingers would make on the keys of that organ. It is important to see all that he has achieved, and to be happy that he was able to have fulfilled so much in only seventy-years on this world. Although we will never again see him with his white-haired buzz cut, sharp blazer and classic-looking tie, we will always remember his kind eyes, warm heart and unforgettable words of wisdom.