Retired Creighton Law Dean, Beloved Professor Loved His Students, Colleagues

Rodney Shkolnick (Creighton University)

Rodney Shkolnick

Dec. 3, 1931 – July 29, 2020


Beloved Creighton University School of Law Dean Emeritus Rodney Shkolnick died July 29. He was 88.

Shkolnick joined Creighton’s School of Law in 1961, after practicing law in Ottumwa, Iowa, for two years and serving two years as a researcher on the faculty of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

He graduated from the University of Iowa College of Law in Iowa City, Iowa,  in 1955. He spent two years serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War.

He began teaching his signature course at Creighton Law, Contract Law, in 1965. For 35 years, law students learned contracts and how to think like a lawyer from him.

Shkolnick became assistant to the dean in 1970 and associate dean in 1971. As dean of the law school from 1978 to 1988, he worked to encourage more women to attend law school.

Known for being down-to-earth and funny, he was a beloved mentor to colleagues and students alike.

Marianne Culhane, former Creighton Law dean, said in 2011 that Shkolnick, who “flunked retirement,” exemplified the ideal of a student-centered professor.

“He wasn’t trying to make a name for himself so he could move on to Harvard or somewhere,” she said. “He wanted to be here for the students, and that is what this school emphasizes – the importance of being there for students, even after class.”

While teaching at Creighton, Shkolnick also became a partner in the Omaha law firm of McGrath | North in 1966.

As the student body of the law school became much larger, Shkolnick had to decide whether to remain a full-time teacher or to practice law. He chose teaching.

So beloved was he, that one year the students pooled enough money to send him and his wife to the Rose Bowl to watch his favorite team, the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Shkolnick was also voted professor of the year on several occasions.

He was awarded dean emeritus status in 1994, the most prestigious honor a university can bestow on a member of the faculty and administration. He celebrated 50 years of service to the law school in 2011.

He and his wife, Lois, who died in 2004, established the Rodney and Lois Shkolnick Scholarship Fund in the School of Law in 1985.

In retirement, Shkolnick enjoyed golfing and traveling.

A private service for family was held July 31 at Beth El Cemetery in Omaha and a Zoom  Shiva/Memorial Service was held Aug. 2.

In addition to his wife of 49 years, he was preceded in death by brothers Stanley, Donald, and David.

He is survived by sons Jeffrey (Robyn) Shkolnick and Stuart (Judy) Shkolnick, grandson Jacob (Holly) Shkolnick, granddaughters Leah, Lauren, Jordan, and Jillian, great granddaughter Vivian Shkolnick, brother-in-law Gary Greenblatt, sisters-in-law Phoebe Shkolnick and Sandy Shkolnick, numerous nieces and nephews and by his significant other, Judith Napier.

In memoriam, donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Cancer Society, the Rodney and Lois Shkolnick Endowed Scholarship Fund at Creighton or the charity of the donor’s choice.

– Creighton University


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