William W. Skinner
William W Skinner.jpg
Skinner as an instructor at Maryland in 1917
Biographical details
Born(1874-03-28)March 28, 1874
Baltimore, Maryland
DiedMarch 10, 1953(1953-03-10) (aged 78)
Baltimore, Maryland
Playing career
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
Head coaching record

William Woolford Skinner (March 28, 1874 – March 10, 1953) was an American chemist, conservationist, and college football coach. He served as the head coach at the Maryland Agricultural College (now University of Maryland) and University of Arizona.

Early life and college

Skinner poses for the team photograph in 1892.
Skinner poses for the team photograph in 1892.

Skinner was born in Baltimore on March 28, 1874,[1] and raised in Cambridge, Maryland.[2] He enrolled at the Maryland Agricultural College in 1891.[2] In 1892, he became the football team's first quarterback and head coach.[3] During that inaugural season, Maryland went scoreless to finish with a 0–3 record.[3] In 1894, he was instrumental in the formation of the Maryland Intercollegiate Football Association, which was created to award the state football championship.[3] In 1895, Skinner graduated from the MAC as the valedictorian.[4] He earned a B.S. through its "Agricultural-Scientific" course.[2]

Professional career

Upon graduation, Skinner took a job at his alma mater as an assistant chemist, and enrolled in graduate school at Columbian University (now the George Washington University) in 1896.[2] He graduated with an M.S. from Columbian in 1898.[2] In 1899, Skinner married Georgia née Mitchell, with whom he later had a daughter.[2] From 1899 to 1901, he served in an assistant chemist post at the University of Arizona. While there, he also studied geology[2] and coached the football team in 1900 and 1901.[5] He guided Arizona to 3–1 and 4–1 records, respectively.[5]

In 1904, Skinner studied botany and physical chemistry at the University of California.[2] That summer, he worked as a chemist at the University of Arizona School of Mines.[2] Following that, he took a job as a food inspection chemist with the Bureau of Chemistry of the United States Department of Agriculture, where he worked until 1908.[2] Skinner then became the chief of the bureau's Water Laboratory.[2] In 1911, the Maryland Agriculture College awarded him an honorary M.S. degree.[2] As of 1914, Skinner was living in Kensington, Maryland and continuing his work as the chief of the Water Laboratory.[2]

The Baltimore Sun described Skinner as "a nationally prominent agricultural chemist and one of the nation's foremost conservationists, who was one of the first researchers to study pollution in the Chesapeake Bay."[6]

Skinner served on the Board of Regents at the University of Maryland from 1916 to 1941,[7] including as its chairman from 1935 onward.[8]

Later life

Skinner meets Maryland quarterback Tommy Mont in 1942.
Skinner meets Maryland quarterback Tommy Mont in 1942.

In 1942, while associate chief of the Bureau of Agricultural Chemistry and Engineering, Skinner attended a meeting to discuss food dehydration as a means to reduce the logistical burden of transporting war supplies. The Sheboygan Press noted that he was not called upon during the meeting, and remained quiet until its participants began to disperse. He then spoke up:

I have been a student of dehydration for many years, but I don't suppose that counts. Old fellows like me don't get much attention. The accent is on youth in these times—so much so that I think it wouldn't be out of place to design another flag for the Capitol in addition to Old Glory. Yes, gentlemen, I recommend a background of bright green, with a pair of diapers rampant.[9]

Skinner was promoted to chief of the Bureau in November 1942.[10]

He died on March 10, 1953.[11] Skinner was posthumously inducted into the inaugural class of the University of Maryland Alumni Hall of Fame in 1995.[6] The Skinner Building, constructed on the school's campus in 1915, is named in his honor.[8]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Maryland Aggies (Independent) (1892)
1892 Maryland 0–3
Maryland: 0–3
Arizona (Independent) (1900–1901)
1900 Arizona 3–1
1901 Arizona 4–1
Arizona: 7–2
Total: 7–5


  1. ^ Who was who in American history-science and technology: a component of who's who in American history
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m C. G. Church (ed.), Alumni Record of the Maryland Agricultural College, p. 44–47, 1914.
  3. ^ a b c David Ungrady, Tales from the Maryland Terrapins, 2003, p. 4–6, Sports Publishing LLC, ISBN 1-58261-688-4.
  4. ^ MAC TO MILLENNIUM: Commencement Speakers, University of Maryland, retrieved August 8, 2010.
  5. ^ a b Will Skinner Archived 2013-09-27 at the Wayback Machine, College Football Data Warehouse, retrieved June 2, 2010.
  6. ^ a b Sylvia Badger, U-Md.'s Hall of Fame opens its doors, The Baltimore Sun, April 28, 1995.
  7. ^ HEAD OF U. OF MD. REGENTS RESIGNS; Dr. W. W. Skinner Has Been Member Of Board For Twenty-Five Years Says He Wanted To Be Relieved Of Duties After Long Period, The Baltimore Sun, May 17, 1941.
  8. ^ a b University of Maryland, A to Z; MAC to Millennium, University of Maryland Libraries, retrieved July 21, 2010.
  9. ^ New Flag For Capitol, The Sheboygan Press, July 24, 1942.
  10. ^ Report of the Chief of the Bureau of Agricultural and Industrial Chemistry, p. 3, Agricultural Research Administration, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943.
  11. ^ Obituary, The Baltimore Sun, March 11, 1953.