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June 6, 2013

Beloved teacher Dr. Paul Skalski passes away

By Alexandra Murray

Dr. Paul SkalskiAn admired and longtime professor of Cleveland State University, Dr. Paul Skalski passed away on May, 20, 2013. His passing was an unforeseen circumstance for many because he was an accomplished individual who died at the peak of his life.

“Dr. Paul Skalski was one of the most accomplished young scholars and teachers in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences,” said George M. Sadlek, dean and professor of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. “Greatly admired for his many contributions, he was a good friend to both his colleagues and his students. Due to his untimely death, the college has suffered a major loss.”

Outside of the academic environment, former students and colleagues described him as funny, kind and outgoing. A man who would, at times, go above and beyond in the classroom while creating an unbreakable bond with his students that will remain in their hearts forever.

Emily Christyson, a former student in Skalski’s Communication Inquiry class in the spring of 2013, shared a heartfelt anecdote of her first day of class, when Skalski asked her to share a weird fact about herself.

“I know this may sound weird,” Christyson said. “But my Grandparents met in the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.” When she told Skalski this, he shared that his grandparents also met in the circus. Christyson said that moment is one she will never forget.

The feeling is mutual for his former colleagues in the communications department, including Dr. Richard M. Perloff, who took to Facebook to share his thoughts with fellow grievers.

“I share this sentiment: He was a brilliant researcher, great teacher, video game maven, and guy with a great sense of humor,” Perloff said. “Wonderful, wonderful addition to humanity.”

Fellow colleague Dr. George B. Ray, director of the school of communications, echoed those sentiments.

“Professor Skalski was an irreplaceable gem to the communications department,” Ray said. “Even though he is gone the classes he taught will still be continued.”
The question remains - who exactly will be taking over the ample list of courses Skalski taught faithfully throughout the academic year? At this time no one has been chosen to take over Skalski’s position, but whoever it is has very large shoes to fill.

Skalski jamming in his videogame lab

Skalski leaves behind an extensive research legacy on the impacts of video games and presence and near-constant contributions he had made to other streams of research.

“Paul Skalski was on track for becoming a national leader in digital media research and appeared to have boundless energy,” said William R. Morgan, associate dean and professor of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The respect and love many faculty and students have gained for Skalski will continue to be remembered. This statement proved accurate when faculty and students of Cleveland State University came out Friday, May, 31 to the Paul Skalski Memorial and Benefit to pay last respects to their former colleague.

The event hosted by Jen Poland, a former teaching assistant of Skalski’s, made sure that the event was far from boring. The event was a tribute to all the things Paul Skalski, affectionately known as P-Money, loved including a Ninja Kick contest that lasted from 8-9pm.

As the night went on they continued to play some of Skalski’s favorite songs accompanied by a final toast of a P-Money-inspired beverage to their dear friend who is gone but will never be forgotten. The proceeds from the drinks were to be donated to his mother Shelia.

Skalski is survived by his mother, Sheila Kus; his fiancé, Lori Kahoe; sister Lesley Lavalais-Jacobs; and members of the Cerba, Fish, Shorb and Nemeth families of Cleveland.