Plattsburgh State to honor Skopp with name on Holocaust gallery
Published: Thursday, October 25, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 25, 2012 20:10
After dedicating nearly 40 years of his life to teaching about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust at Plattsburgh State, Professor Emeritus Douglas Skopp and his wife Evelyn will lend their names to a Holocaust Gallery in Feinberg Library Nov. 5.
Skopp, a former history professor, said it is a great honor for both his wife and him.
“It’s overwhelming for both my wife and I,” he said.
He and his wife came to Plattsburgh in 1972 when he started working in the history department teaching European history, specializing in the role Germany played during World War I, World War II and the Holocaust.
Skopp said his wife joined the staff of the bookstore around that time and eventually moved over to the registrar’s office where she became the associate registrar.
He brought the annual Holocaust commemoration — the Days of Remembrance — which roughly coincides with the Jewish Holocaust remembrance day Yom HaShoah, to Plattsburgh State’s campus and coordinated it every year until he retired in 2007.
Associate Professor of communications Jonathan Slater took over as coordinator for the Days of Remembrance after Skopp retired.
Slater said the Days of Remembrance has looked different each year, but with the establishment of the gallery, he said the ceremony will find a new home in the gallery this coming semester.
The next remembrance ceremony will have a secular service in the gallery that will have speakers such as a rabbi from Temple Beth Israel in Plattsburgh, students from the campus Hillel group and faculty members.
Slater said Skopp is deserving of this honor, and the decision to name the memorial after him was a good one.
“Professor Skopp has done so much to make the campus community and the surrounding community aware of the Holocaust,” he said, “and to educate students and members of the community about the Holocaust and about genocide in general.
“This has been probably one of his most significant life projects,” Slater said.
Skopp said the honor is extraordinary. There are many faculty members, former and current, who are just as deserving of this honor. However, he said he was happy.
“Every faculty member hopes to do the right thing for their students,” he said.
Treasurer of the Alumni Association Board of Directors Joseph DeSalvo was a student of Skopp’s in the late 1980s and worked with him on a book called Bright with Promise.
DeSalvo has since graduated and has been a special agent for the FBI and the chief security officer for two fortune 500 companies: Charles Schwab of San Francisco, a trading and investing company, and Iron Mountain of Boston, an information management company.
After graduating, DeSalvo said he continued to be involved with the college by joining the Alumni Association.
He said that after graduating, he became close friends with Skopp and, to this day, still considers Skopp to keep in touch with him.
That is why he said he tried to come up with way to honor Skopp.
Because of Skopp’s dedication to the Holocaust, DeSalvo and the other benefactors decided that the memorial would be the best way to make sure future students will remember Skopp.
“It really was his passion for that particular subject (that fueled the decision),” DeSalvo said. “It (memorial) would really please him.”
Norman Radow ’78 is a PSUC alumnus who went on to become an attorney and start his own real estate company out of Georgia known as RADCO. He recently donated money for the Holocaust memorial.
Radow said Skopp is deserving of this honor because of all he has done for the campus.
“He lives and breathes cardinal red,” he said.
Radow said he took several classes with Skopp as an undergraduate, but he did not know Skopp was so passionate about the Holocaust.
He said he had never taken a class where Skopp taught about the Holocaust. However, he finds Skopp’s recent book, Shadows Walking, “very powerful.”
The Holocaust gallery is not the only Holocaust-related thing to which Skopp has lent his name.
Slater said the second installment of the annual Douglas R. Skopp Creative Competition on the theme of the Holocaust will be announced at the dedication Nov. 5.