Savina S. Skewis Study Abroad Scholarship

This $1,500 - $2,000 scholarship supports undergraduate students at the junior level for global learning experiences.

Savina Stark Skewis, a native of Delaware, received a bachelor’s degree in Home Economics from the University of Delaware in 1927 and a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1939. Her prior experience as a home economics teacher in the McKeesport and Carnegie School Districts prepared her to move to the University of Pittsburgh in 1946 as a dietitian with the University Food Service.  By 1950, Miss Skewis had become the Associate Dean of Women, the Dean of Women in 1965 and the Associate Dean of Students from 1968-1970. In 1946, only 25% of the student body was women; by 1982, the number had grown to 52%.

Her first exposure to the University actually was with young men training to become Army officers.  The Army “invaded” the Cathedral of Learning in 1944 to set up its special training program. Miss Skewis started working in food service at the very end of their stay. The Army barracks was on the 12th floor and the Dean of Women’s offices had to vacate the space over a weekend and weren’t returned there for two years. Miss Skewis recalled “There was a major problem with the Army’s occupation. They had no place to eat. But within three weeks the Army built a mess hall and kitchen in the Cathedral’s sub-basement.”

During the ensuing years, she was Director of Heinz Chapel, Advisor to the Chancellor, Consultant to the Secretary of the University, and advisor to numerous student, women’s and community organizations. She mentored and travelled with Heinz Chapel Choir for many years, travelling to Europe four times with the Choir and once with the Men’s Glee Club. Her office was the Braun Room from where she supervised the use of the 12th floor kitchen (she and Helen Pool Rush are pictured above in the kitchen which opened in 1951) which was furnished by Vira I. Heinz for the Dean of Women’s Program. Miss Skewis worked with the architect to design the kitchen. She also helped in the planning of Lothrop Hall and in the setting up of the quadrangle for women. She was also involved in the organization of the resident assistant and mentor systems. In October 1986, she was a panel speaker at the University’s “Women at Pitt” program.

Generations of students – men and women – gravitated to the 12th floor where Miss Skewis, if not in her office, could be found in the kitchen offering soup, sandwiches, cookies, sticky buns, and a sympathetic ear to help students plan events and discuss their concerns in a homelike atmosphere.

Miss Skewis was named a Distinguished Daughter of Pennsylvania in 1982, honoring her contributions in the field of Higher Education. She was awarded the status of Dean of Women Emerita by the University of Pittsburgh and received many honors and citations from student and women’s organizations. Her struggle with Parkinson’s disease in her later years didn’t keep her from participating in University events and enjoying everyone she came in contact with.