The life and times of Skipper, Bob


Known among the student body as one of the most important faculty members on WKU’s campus, director of media relations Bob Skipper has a crucial job: among other responsibilities, inform campus about school cancellations. Skipper became the center of the student body’s Twitter timelines this past Sunday.

During the recent snow on Valentine’s Day, Twitter was abuzz about why Skipper couldn’t cancel class immediately. This hubbub illustrates one of the biggest misconceptions students seem to have about his job.

“The decision is ultimately made by the president from a recommendation to the provost by a group that includes WKU Police, Facilities Management and Environmental Health & Safety,” Skipper said in an email.


According to Skipper, his job is to work with the news media, handle emergency-crisis communication like changes to the university schedule, and to oversee the office that gathers information about the university.

“He participates in these discussions and is responsible for communicating the university’s plans for the day,” David Lee, the provost and vice president for Academic Affairs said. “In that role, Bob has become a campus celebrity.”

Skipper’s rise to WKU fame began a little more than two years ago. He said his coworkers began noticing students referring to someone named “Skipper Bob” on Twitter, and the trend grew from there.

“Once students realized I was a real person, it escalated,” he said. “When I began engaging with students, it grew even more.”

The original email sent to faculty, staff and students at 5:45 p.m. on Sunday informed them that the Bowling Green campus would be on a regular schedule the next day. One of the earliest tweets about the decision came at 5:55 p.m. from the Twitter account @WKU_GreekHumor.

“Aye bro how am I supposed to know if it’s ok to get wild tonight if you ain’t announcing till the A.M.!? @bskipper59,” the tweet stated.

Tweets continued to roll in throughout the evening. Jared Rosdeutscher, @rosdeutscher, tweeted a Valentine’s poem for Skipper.

“Love is red, Sorrow is blue. I have a 30 minute commute and I can’t see my road, Please help,” the tweet stated.

Some tweets also claimed WKU was more concerned with its Head to the Hill event than with students’ safety. Multiple accounts tweeted that they believed WKU placed higher priority on the recruitment event than on students.

“Wku is only having class tomorrow cuz they’re recruiting during tomorrow’s head to the hill. Business before students. Gotta make that money,” Twitter user @1018KatieT said.

Skipper said one of his favorite responses from students is their reaction when they see him out and about.

“The most fun I have is when people recognize me out on campus or even off campus and ask to have their photos taken with me,” he said.

Although students mainly do it for fun, Skipper has had several run-ins with those who take it a little too far, but he always seems to have an answer for them.

“I think he enjoys that role, and he handles it very well,” Lee said.

In addition to his encounters with students outside the Internet, Skipper also interacted with several via Twitter as he exchanged tweets with them.

Paul Swartz , @iAmPaulSwartz, tweeted at Skipper and said if he didn’t cancel school tomorrow that Swartz would consider transferring.

“Would hate to see you go,” Skipper tweeted in reply to Swartz.

From tweets about him becoming WKU’s next president to being threatened, cussed and called names, Skipper has seen it all, but said he always remembers to remain professional.

“Usually someone will come to my defense, which is gratifying,” Skipper said. “Sometimes I have to restrain myself; I do remember that I represent the university.” 

With social media a direct communication pipeline to WKU students, the chance of this tweeting frenzy about Skipper disappearing anytime soon is pretty slim.

“He communicates accurately and concisely. His work is a great example of using social media to get important information to the campus community quickly,” Lee said.

Skipper said he believes that as long as Twitter is around, the constant tweets towards him will be as well.

“I think it is a great way to keep a personal connection with the students and will continue to engage with them as long as they want,” he said.

Here are more tweets from Sunday night: