Robert A. Skotheim L.L.D. '74, HWS provost and dean of the faculty from 1972 to 1975, has been named president of Occidental College in Los Angeles, beginning Jan. 1.
His term will run until June 2009, when it is anticipated that Occidental will announce the appointment of its 15th president.
After leaving HWS, he served as president of Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash., until 1988, when he was named president of The Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens, in San Marino, Calif., from which he retired in 2001.
During his tenure at Whitman, he led the largest capital campaign undertaken by any college or university in the Pacific Northwest.
Dennis A. Collins, chair of the Occidental Board of Trustees, said Skotheim's “wisdom, brilliance, passion for the liberal arts, and his extraordinary capacity to draw the best out of people are all qualities that make him an exceptional leader. His track record as the chief executive of higher education and cultural institutions is without peer. Occidental will be in very good hands with Bob Skotheim at the helm.”
A nationally known historian, Skotheim, 74, succeeds Susan Prager, who announced in November that she would resign effective Dec. 31.
At The Huntington, he was instrumental in focusing on a new mission — education — and broadening its vision to better reflect the Native American, Asian, Latino, and African American cultural materials in its collections. Under his leadership, the Huntington endowment more than doubled, budget deficits were eliminated, membership grew sixfold, and a major building program was launched.
Whitman and The Huntington each honored Skotheim and his wife, Nadine, by endowing chairs in their honor on his retirement: an endowed chair in history at the former and an endowed chair in education at the latter.
Skotheim received his bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in history from the University of Washington. He was a Guggenheim Fellow, the recipient of Washington’s Distinguished Teaching Award and the Distinguished Achievement Award in the College of Arts and Sciences.
He taught at UCLA, the University of Colorado, and Wayne State University in addition to the University of Washington. He is the author of numerous books, articles and reviews in the field of American intellectual history and social thought, among other topics.
The couple live on Bainbridge Island on Puget Sound near Seattle, Wash.; they have three grown children and eight grandchildren.