Associate Professor of Marketing Deb Skinner has a motto: “I am the nurturer of the extraordinary.” For Skinner, the most important lesson she teaches is getting students to realize their own potential.
“One of the things I preach, and you can ask them—I preach a lot of things—is the importance in believing in yourself,” she said. “Because many times that is half the battle. If they believe in who they are, then they can do anything.”
Skinner, who grew up in Kent, Ohio, joined the Butler faculty 19 years ago, teaching Introductory Marketing and Senior Marketing capstone. She knew she wanted to teach at Butler because of the strong emphasis on the students’ wellbeing outside the classroom.
“Butler has a strong focus on students and helping in their transformation to being contributing members of the real world,” she said. “We get to know the students as individuals, push them beyond their comfort line, and get them to focus on life beyond just being a business person.”
Skinner has since taught a number of other courses, including an Aesthetics and Design course that she co-developed with Associate Professor of Art Gautam Rao as a way to bring marketing and art together.
But her favorite course is the Senior Capstone.
“I love the class and I love that I get to see them on their way out of the door,” she said. “We spend a significant amount of time developing their own personal marketing plan. Taking theories we have learned and applying it to themselves. I make them come up with a logo or brand.”
In addition to teaching, Skinner is an adviser for more than 30 students. She said that through this part of the job she has maintained some of her strongest and lasting relationships.
“I love to meet them when they walk in the door and get to see them grow all four years,” she said. “They have to call me Professor Skinner here, but when they walk across that stage at graduation it changes to Deb. When they visit as alumni it is a huge joy.”
Skinner said one of her greatest accomplishments in her time at Butler has been her involvement in the business curriculum change to Real Life, Real Business in 2002.
“Hanging on my door is the quote ‘Welcome to the Dark Side’ from Star Wars, because I was given that label for tending to raise concerns about change instead of maintaining the status quo,” she said. “People thought it was a negative label, but I embraced it because we need it to see what we can do to be better. I’m hopeful we can do that again.”
At the end of each year, Skinner sends out a final email to her senior class. She ends the note the same way, letting them know she will always be there for them.
She writes: “YOU ARE A BULLDOG! Always! Keep in touch. You know where I’ll be. Let me know about the great places you’re off to discover. Best wishes on a bright and wonderful future.”