A Generous Mentor

Valpo meteorology students benefit from an ongoing relationship with one of the nation’s premier broadcast meteorologists.

Photo of Tom Skilling at podium
WGN forecaster Tom Skilling addresses a group at Valparaiso University

Valpo’s meteorology students have the benefit of close proximity to Chicago, the third largest television market in the country. Many Valpo students participate in internships at Chicago television stations. For the past 20 years, nearly 100 meteorology students have interned with one of the best broadcast meteorologists in the country — WGN’s veteran forecaster, Tom Skilling.

Dustin Bonk ’11, a meteorologist at WILX-TV in Lansing, Mich., learned to make accurate, scientific predictions in Valparaiso University’s meteorology department, but it was from Skilling that he learned about broadcasting.

“My final semester at Valpo, twice a week, I commuted to WGN in Chicago to intern with Tom Skilling,” he says. “Through that internship, I grasped what it takes to be a good broadcaster.”

Skilling has been especially generous to the Valpo community. He visits campus often to speak to Valpo’s AMS Chapter, and in 2003 he served as the May Commencement speaker.

But it is his role as mentor to Valpo students that has been particularly meaningful for students, faculty, and even Skilling himself.

“I’ve been so impressed by our Valparaiso University interns over the years,” says Skilling.

“I tell our young Valpo interns when they arrive that what they’re about to see isn’t always neat or pretty. But the experience in which they’re about to engage is sure to offer them a no-holds-barred view of life in the deadline-driven world of operational meteorology,” Skilling continued. “Observing what happens in such an environment played a big role in the development and pursuit of my own career, and it’s such a thrill to play even a small role in allowing our future meteorologists to observe the day-to-day operation of a weather forecast operation.”

Professor of Meteorology Bart Wolf helped initiate the University’s partnership with Skilling. “Every time I see Tom, I am impressed that he speaks so highly of our Valpo students,” he says. “He’s been one of the standard bearers in broadcast meteorology for a long time, and he has been great to us at Valpo.

Excerpted from “A Climate of Opportunity,” a feature story in the spring 2014 issue of Valpo Magazine.