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A Hamline legend retires

Beloved Hamline Professor Skip Messenger retires after more than 30 years of teaching at Hamline.

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A Hamline legend retires

Skip Messenger posing with study abroad students.

Skip Messenger posing with study abroad students.

Courtesy of Skip Messenger

Skip Messenger posing with study abroad students.

Courtesy of Skip Messenger

Courtesy of Skip Messenger

Skip Messenger posing with study abroad students.

Samantha Lindquist, Senior Reporter

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Skip Messenger has been an Anthropology Professor at Hamline since 1984. He is a beloved, accomplished Professor and has touched many in his time at Hamline.

Junior Hannah Klumb was one of the students who was touched by Skip’s teaching and love of anthropology.

“Skip was my professor for Introduction into Anthropology course that I took my freshman year.  Already knowing that I wanted to be an anthropologist he secured that drive in me to pursue this career path. His passion for archaeology and different cultures around the world continues to inspire me.”

“I absolutely love working with students! It’s going to be bittersweet [to retire].”

While working on his PhD in Mexico, Skip’s advisor was suddenly struck by lightning and passed away. However, he continued to research on what he and his advisor had been working on: climate change.

After living in Mexico for a few years with his wife of over 50 years, Skip got the call from Cynthia Cone, the Anthropology Chair at the time, and asked if Skip wanted to teach a course at Hamline. One course turned into two, which turned into him becoming an adjunct professor, and eventually a full-time professor.

Skip said that despite working at other colleges including Carleton,  Hamline was special.

“I liked Hamline, I liked the fact that I could walk around and see faculty offices open and that students could talk to the faculty.”

He started with Intro to Anthropology, and eventually started developing his own courses. Attendance in Anthropology classes skyrocketed with Skip teaching, from around 20 students to 60-70 per course.

Skip says that back when he started teaching at Hamline, he looked a little different.

“My beard was jet black…and I was thin until I got to Hamline! I used to smoke a pipe, and I always had a buret on my head.”

Senior Martin W. Pepper was another Hamline student who was very affected by Skip’s dedication to his students.

“Skip always encourages his students to follow their interests and is quick to provide a helping hand wherever he can. He has given me connections to archeologists whose work interest me and who I can build a career under. While I was his TA he gave me the chance to research a subject that I hadn’t had the support to before, and more importantly taught me what it means to be a teacher. My relationship with him has been one of the most meaningful I’ve built in my time at Hamline.”

Skip has traveled abroad with Hamline students all over the world, particularly Mexico, the place where he studied and loves so much.

“25 people are the average number of people on my study abroad programs. We’ve gone all over, including Machu Pecho, Mexico, Peru, Southeast Asia, Thailand, Cambodia. And I got to see their faces when they see [these places]. To see students’ faces when they see [these places]… I feel very privileged in what I have been able to do with students.”

When asked what aspects of his work at Hamline Skip was most proud of, Skip modestly said “I’ve never bragged so much in my life!”

He was most proud of the unique curriculum and teaching styles that he brought to Hamline, specifically mentioning how he has taught students about climate change, which has taught students how to be self-sufficient when using computers and spreadsheets.

“I’m also very proud to have been the sponsor of the Mayan Society of Minnesota, which meets every month on campus. And three of my students have received Stedman Awards; that is a brag.”

Skip says that making a relationship with his students was always more important to him than publishing, but that he may focus on publishing more of his work in his retirement.

Skip’s dedication to Hamline, commitment to his students, and passion for anthropology and climate change will not be forgotten anytime soon. He will be deeply missed by students, staff and faculty who have had the privilege of meeting him.


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A Hamline legend retires