Longtime University of Wyoming faculty member Donal Skinner, the first dean of UW’s new Honors College, has been inducted as an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society.
It’s only the eighth time in the past 40 years that UW’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter has awarded an honorary membership. Former UW President Tom Buchanan received the honor last year.
Honorary members may be UW faculty members or others whose work in the promotion of educational, literary, social or scientific progress is generally and widely commended. They must meet the provisions outlined in the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s constitution and bylaws.
“Dr. Skinner’s career shows his commitment to the liberal arts, that rich panoply of learning that has always characterized the most valuable and lasting intellectual achievements. He recognizes the importance of this learning in the lives of our students and all those about whom we care deeply,” says Eric Nye, professor in the UW Department of English and chapter secretary. “As dean of the UW Honors College, he is in a position to ensure the perpetuation of this learning to multitudes of young people and prepare them to embark on rich lives of deep thought in the great tradition of the liberal arts and sciences.”
Skinner received his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge, England, in 1994, following a bachelor’s degree in zoology and computer science from Rhodes University in South Africa. After postdoctoral fellowships at Cambridge and INRA in France, he was appointed to an assistant professorship at the veterinary school at the University of Bristol before relocating to UW in 2002.
His research during the past 30 years has focused on the seasonal mechanisms driving hormone secretion and, most recently, on the roles of gonadotropin-releasing hormone outside the neuroendocrine reproductive axis. Skinner has published 80 papers in scientific journals, mostly on hormones secreted by the brain. After four years as head of the Department of Zoology and Physiology, he was selected in 2017 as the inaugural dean of UW’s Honors College.
UW’s Phi Beta Kappa chapter, one of 286 nationwide, sponsors lectures, scholarships and other academic activities. The chapter will celebrate the 78th anniversary of earning its charter in November.