Written by Lucero Benitez, COSS Communications Specialist

Dr. William Skuban has been at Fresno State since 1998, making him one of the longest tenured professors in the College of Social Sciences. This semester he is leading the history department as chair, while teaching courses virtually.

Dr. Skuban grew up in Salinas, CA and obtained his first college degree in Business Administration. For ten years he worked in sales and marketing for two large corporations, including Hershey Chocolate Company, but he later returned to school to pursue history, the subject he’s most passionate about. He received a Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis.  

“My passion for Latin America was ignited by excellent professors of the subject who themselves had a passion for studying Latin America,” Skuban said. “My regional specialization is South America, particularly the countries of Peru and Chile, where I have both lived and conducted several research trips over the years.” 

His topical research interests include nationalism and national identity, U.S.-Latin American relations, and Church-State relations in Chile. At Fresno State Dr. Skuban teaches Latin American history. 

Skuban shares his experience at Fresno State in a Q&A: 

How do you feel about leading the history department? 

This is my second term as Department Chair, so I do know my way around the position a bit, although much has changed.  My first term was during another difficult era, 2009–2013. I hope to assist my colleagues in any way possible and to help them meet the challenges of these times. I hope to elevate the profile of the department within the community as much as possible.  

What is it like to work at Fresno State?

I enjoy the diversity and the energy of our students. They keep me passionate about history, Latin America, and teaching. 

How have you adjusted to the new and sudden way of teaching in this virtual environment?

I think I have adjusted fairly well to the virtual world. Taking a crash course on Canvas over the summer really helped.

What do you miss about being on campus and teaching in the classroom? What are you embracing?

I miss the in-person, day-in, day-out contact with the students. I believe, and most of my students believe, that in-person classes represent the superior mode of teaching and learning. I miss seeing the flash of understanding in their eyes when they grasp something I have said. This is hard to see on a computer screen. I have really ramped up my attempts to create alternative ways for students to express their understanding and knowledge of the material. 

What do you look forward to this semester?

I look forward to ensuring that students get through this semester as smoothly as possible.

What is an unknown fun fact about you?

I run for exercise, read a lot (my current favorite author is Leonardo Padura of Cuba), travel, and I love to garden, especially roses.  

Dr. Skuban can be reached by email at weskuban@csufresno.edu.