Barbara J. Gaskins, the first woman administrator in Creighton University’s School of Law was known for her intelligence, sense of humor and generosity and was well-liked and respected among her peers and students. Gaskins died in her sleep Saturday, July 9, while on a cruise with her husband in the Inland Passage of the Pacific Northwest. She was 63.
Born in McCook, Neb., Gaskins earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Nebraska in 1970. Dissatisfied with her job at Northwestern Bell, Gaskins decided to attend law school at the urging of her husband Ken, an attorney at McGill, Koley, Parsonage and Lanphier.
Gaskins went on to graduate first in her class from Creighton in 1976 and clerked for Judges Donald P. Lay and Donald R. Ross at the Eighth Circuit. In 1978 she was appointed assistant dean by then Dean Rodney Shkolnick, and was the first woman to hold an administrative position in the law school. She was named associate dean in 1990.
“She was my first hire as Dean,” said Shkolnick. “She was an excellent addition to the law school as an administrator and teacher. More importantly she was a good friend, advisor, and always gave me her honest opinion. She was not shy about telling me what she thought.”
Gaskins received the Mary Lucretia Award from the Creighton University Committee on the Status of Women in 2000 for her work as a role model of accomplishment for women. She was recognized for her 25 years of service to the University in 2004.
“Barb was a great friend to all who knew her. Her kindness, wisdom and hearty laugh blessed us and our students for many (but not nearly enough) years,” said Creighton University School of Law Dean Marianne Culhane.
Known for her quick wit, charm and sincerity, Gaskins took her role seriously as the assistant dean, the one who had to enforce the rules among the students.
“Barb was loyal beyond imagination to Creighton. She loved the law school, the faculty and the university, as well as the Bluejays. And of course she loved Rod (Shkolnick), but all of us love Rod. Her bond with him was deep and serious and inspirational. They shared a very dry sense of humor,” said Larry Raful, dean of Creighton Law from 1988 to 1999.
She served on the board of directors of Nebraska’s Continuing Legal Education program for 18 years.
Gaskins retired from the School of Law in 2008 and moved with her husband to Cave Creek, Ariz. Their son John lives in Lincoln.
A memorial service for Gaskins will be held at the Creighton School of Law at 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 23. A service will be held in Arizona at 3:00 P.M. on Friday, July 15, at Messinger Pinnacle Peak Mortuary in Scottsdale.