The Hokie Nation is in mourning today, as one of the university's most loyal supporters, former dean William E. Skelton, has succumbed to cancer. Skelton, who was 89 years old, died Saturday morning.
Throughout his seventy year affiliation with Virginia Tech, Bill Skelton personified the motto of the university: Ut Prosim (That I May Serve). A former dean of the Extension division at Virginia Tech who began his career at the university as director of 4-H programs and Virginia Cooperative Extension, Skelton’s love and loyalty for Virginia Tech found expression in his roles as volunteer fundraiser, reunion organizer, leadership board member, and campaign chair.
Skelton was equally selfless in his devotion to causes throughout the commonwealth and the world, most notably with 4-H and Rotary International, an organization that he served as club president, district governor, and president.
President Charles W. Steger, a close friend of Skelton’s for many years, praised him for his commitment to the university and the surrounding community. “He really was a selfless volunteer. And he combined that dedication and enthusiasm with considerable skill."
Tom Tillar, vice president for alumni relations, lauded Skelton’s contributions to the university’s alumni association. “Bill Skelton led and chaired the single most important initiative in the association’s 130-year history – that of building the first alumni center.” Under Skelton’s guidance, that project eventually grew to include a new hotel, conference center and alumni center complex that was completed in 2005.
Just this past summer, Skelton was honored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education with the Ernest T. Stewart Award for Alumni Volunteer Involvement, the highest honor the organization gives to an alumni volunteer.
In nominating Skelton for the award, Elizabeth Flanagan, vice president for development and university relations at Virginia Tech, said, “No other person affiliated with the university has touched the lives of more alumni and friends of Virginia Tech than Dr. William E. Skelton.”