LAS bids farewell to Assistant Dean Penelope Soskin

By Chandresh Nandani

Penelope Soskin, director of LAS honors programs and senior assistant dean in the College of LAS, retired Friday, June 27, marking the end of her 15-year tenure as director, which began in 1999.

Before her retirement party during spring semester finals, students were asked if they would like to sign a large mat to be presented to Soskin; however, it was instantly clear that one mat was not going to be enough.

Students wrote paragraphs upon paragraphs thanking Soskin for all she has done. Ultimately, it took two mats and a journal to accommodate every student.

Margaret O’Connor, an alumna of the University, said Soskin is notable for her personal touches and the amazing support system she provides for every student.

Soskin is memorable for a range of personal touches, from her “lucky finals pencils” to tickets for shows at Krannert to knowing the name of almost every student in the James Scholar Honors Program, said Allison Branson, office support specialist to the Honors Office.

Soskin is notable for her work in ensuring the James Scholar Program runs effectively and efficiently. Throughout her career as assistant dean, she largely focused on getting students to see past just the University into the larger Champaign-Urbana community.

Associate Director Kirsten Bartels will be taking over for Soskin. Bartels said she will continue many of the initiatives that Soskin started while looking for additional ways to make the LAS Honors Program best serve the students and establish a sense of community within the program.

Ultimately, Soskin said she is appreciative of all the students who allowed her to be in this position and left them a final piece of advice.

“It is very important to have a world view, and the world view should be to appreciate and understand those who are different from us,” Soskin said. “We aren’t all going to be the same but it is important that we reach out and just be kind to other people.”

Chandresh can be reached at [email protected]