In memory: David A. Skiven, 1947-2011

The Wayne State University College of Engineering laments the loss of David A. Skiven, MSCE'74, alumnus and Hall of Fame member.

Mr. Skiven, 64, passed away on November 16, 2011 at 6 p.m. after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was surrounded by family and friends at his home in Brighton, Mich.

Mr. Skiven served as Co-Director of the Engineering Society of Detroit Institute (ESDI).He also served as ESD's Vice President from 2004 until 2008 and a member of its board from 1998-2008, as well as a trustee of the Rackham Engineering Foundation.

A pillar of Michigan, a visionary and a champion for change, Mr. Skiven dedicated 42 years of his career to the service of General Motors Corporation, serving as executive director of GM's Worldwide Facilities Group. In that role, Skiven was in charge of utilities, capital construction and environmental segments. The result of the single facilities management approach was significant structural cost savings, improved utilization of corporate assets and development of a talented global organization.

For his work at GM, Mr. Skiven was elected to the General Motors Environmental and Energy hall of fame in 2008 as its first recipient.

Following his retirement from General Motors in 2008, Mr. Skiven dedicated the rest of his career to the voluntary service of ESD as the co-founder and co-director of its Institute. In that role, he focused on ways to rebuild Michigan's economy through high-level symposia focused on critical issues, such as energy, water, construction productivity, healthcare, education, and more.

"Every Association and every Board has a person or two that essentially becomes the face or persona of the organization," said Terry J. Woychowski, ESD President and Vice President of Global Quality & Vehicle Launches, General Motors Corp. "Dave Skiven was indeed that persona and embodiment of the spirt of The Engineering Society of Detroit. He was a most valued leader, member and friend of ESD, and he will be greatly missed. His influence will continue to impact our organization for a long time through all of the excellent programs and directions he has helped forge at the ESD."

As a result of his work, the ESD Institute has been able to bring together ideas that represented both unifiers and enablers, building grassroots consensus for new initiatives to solve Michigan's dire problems. For his dedication to ESDI, Mr. Skiven was honored with induction into the ESD College of Fellows and awarded ESD's highest honor, the Horace H. Rackham Humanitarian Award.

"Dave put people first," said Christopher J. Webb, J.D., FESD, ESDI Co-Director. "He had in his travels seen all kinds of folks. He saw leaders in name only and he saw greatness in those unrecognized. What drove him was simple. Help others with ideas that can be implemented."

Mr. Skiven earned a bachelor'se degree in mechanical engineering from General Motors Institute (Kettering) and a master's degree from Wayne State University. In 2002, he was inducted into Wayne State University College of Engineering Hall of Fame.

He served as a frequent advisor to a number of federal facilities organizations including the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force. He was also a board member of the National Academies in Washington, DC.

Mr. Skiven is survived by Karen, his beloved wife of 42 years; children, Keith (Lisa), Kyle (Quynh); sister, Carol (Bruce) Butske; nephew, Bill (Tuli) Butske with children, Ava & Sonia; sister-in-law, Cheryl (Jim) DeLange; father-in-law, Steve Godra.

Memorial contributions are encouraged to the David A. Skiven Leadership Fund, with checks made payable to The Engineering Society of Detroit. The Fund honors the memory and contribution of David A. Skiven, PE, FESD, who co-founded The Engineering Society of Detroit Institute and served as its volunteer co-director from 2008 until his death in November 2011. The salient purpose of the Fund is to provide a sustainable funding source for the Institute to advance its work as conceived and envisioned by Mr. Skiven. In addition, the Fund will support an annual award entitled The David A. Skiven Leadership Award. The management of the Fund is under the executive leadership of ESD and the ESD Board of Directors. An annual summary report on the activities of the Fund is available upon request.

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