CV Welcomes New Dean
The Hobson Wildenthal Honors College welcomes a new dean in spring 2023 with plans to expand the Collegium V program and create more honors initiatives.
On Jan. 17, 2023, the national search for a new honors college dean concluded when Donal Skinner was chosen for the role. Skinner enters UTD with a history of high-ranking academic positions and accomplishments across various colleges. These include being the honors dean at both the University of Wyoming and Ohio University in Athens, engaging in junior research at Cambridge and winning research grants.
“I am thrilled that we can welcome Dr. Skinner as our new dean,” previous Interim Dean Douglas Dow said. “He comes to UTD having already been a dean of honors colleges at two different universities. So, he comes with a lot of experience and a lot of great ideas.”
Study abroad and access to research opportunities helped shape Skinner’s journey as an undergraduate, and he said that he wants to expand those programs at UTD. He hopes to make these programs more advanced and accessible for students. Skinner also aims to use his dean position to target mental health outreach and connect with students by normalizing asking for help. He recognizes that especially high-achieving students are sometimes afraid to reach out and hopes to change that pattern.
“This is something I take extremely seriously, and it’s something I would really like to provide resources and engagement with students on mental health,” Skinner said. “A lot of my purpose and perspective as well is to provide the opportunities and tools for students early on and to normalize reaching out for help.”
Skinner also intends to work towards improving student body diversity by attracting LGBTQIA+ students and international undergraduates to UTD. The whole honors college seeks to expand the number of students coming in from 5% to 8% under the approval of the provost.
“I always feel that international students bring an interesting perspective that everybody gains,” Skinner said.
According to Skinner, the expectation is that students leave the honors college with interdisciplinary perspectives on situations, as well as a deeper understanding of their place in society and the world.
“If a student leaves honors thinking the same way that they did when they arrived, then we’ve kind of failed those students,” Skinner said.
Skinner is looking forward to engaging in honors college activities and the arts and culture scene in Dallas this upcoming semester, which he sees as opportunities to connect with students. He has many goals for the school and an appreciation for the academic environment that has been cultivated at UTD.
“I think this is a very positive university, and it’s a university of ‘what can we do?’” Skinner said, “And I really love that spirit, I’m enjoying it.”