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Celebrating 20 Years of Skiles

Updated: Feb 16

By: Elijah Garza

This year, Hardin-Simmons University’s golden domed building is turning 20 years old. A celebration honoring its 20 years of service was held on Nov. 17. The Skiles Social Sciences building was named in honor of former HSU president Dr. Elwin L. Skiles who served for 11 years in that role.

Dr. Skiles was born in June 1912 and brought to Abilene when he was only three months old. His father studied at Simmons College, now HSU, and graduated from Draughon’s Business College. Dr. Skiles attended HSU from 1930 to 1932 and finished his Bachelor and Master in Arts at Baylor University. He earned a Master of Theology and Doctor of Philosophy in 1938 and 1941 from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.  

For 25 years, Dr. Skiles served as a pastor for communities all over the country, before coming back to preach in Abilene. After serving as minister for the First Baptist Church, he was asked to lead HSU as president from 1966 to1977.

During this time, the campus went through many developments. New buildings constructed included the Sid Richardson Science Center, Mabee Military Science Building, president’s home on Cedar Street, Cowboy Band Hall, Woodward-Dellis Recital Hall, Rupert and Pauline Richardson Library, maintenance building and warehouse, and the Central Heating and Air Conditioning Plant.

During his final year as president, he was given an honorary doctorate and was named Chancellor  and was later named President Emeritus by the Board of Trustees. Dr. Skiles and his wife, Ruth, had three children, with 5 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. At the age of 89, Elwin Skiles passed away, a year before the building's completion.

“Dr. Elwin L. Skiles.” Hardin-Simmons University, Accessed 11 September, 2023. 


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