Retiree reception honors two members of WKU community


Debra Murray

Bob Skipper, director of media relations and Debra Varner, administrative assistant will retire on June 30.

Debra Murray, Digital News Editor

Two members of the WKU staff will soon enter retirement after many years at WKU. Bob Skipper and Debra Varner will both retire June 30. They are retiring as part of the 125 employees who took the retirement buyout offer called the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program.

WKU Communications and Marketing department held a retiree reception yesterday as a way for colleagues to say goodbye to Skipper, media relations director, and Varner, administrative assistant, as they begin retirement.

From starting his career at WKU as university photographer, then later becoming director of media relations, Skipper is retiring after almost 35 years at WKU. Before coming to work at WKU, Skipper worked for the Bowling Green Daily News and the Franklin Favorite newspaper.

Skipper is known for his snow day and university closure announcements and his memorable email signature “Skipper, Bob.”

 “If you have fun while you’re doing something, then that’s icing on the cake,” Skipper said. “That’s what I’ve been able to do here.”

 Since Skipper came to campus as a student he has loved WKU and had every intention of working at the university after spending time working at different newspapers.

 “I love the university and the people that I’ve worked with,” Skipper said. “This is truly a second family. We’ve had some great times. We’ve been through some awful times, but we made it through.”

 While Skipper has been dedicated to WKU for many years, he will be using his retirement as a time to focus on other projects and his involvement as chief of the Woodburn Volunteer Fire Department.

 Varner will also be retiring from what she has called her “second family.” She started at WKU in 2005 as an administrative assistant in the Office of Governmental Relations, now the Communications and Marketing department.

 Varner has been a friendly face to anyone entering the office of Marketing and Communications, said John-Mark Francis, director of marketing. 

 “Debra is that steady smile, the first one to ask how your weekend was and your kids are,” he said. “She’s a big part of the reason that the family feel exists.”

Varner said she has loved every minute of her time at WKU.

“It’s been a hard decision to retire to leave you all,” she said. “I read somewhere a long time ago that you can accomplish great things, if no one cares who gets the credit, and that’s my team.”

 Digital News Editor Debra Murray can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy