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The untimely passing of the founding dean of the pharmacy school at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., unites a community in mourning.
Scott Swigart, founding dean of the Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, N.Y., created quite a legacy during his nearly 10-year tenure at the college.
Swigart, 58, passed away on December 23, 2014, after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.
“Scott was a spirited presence on campus and a true friend. His leadership of the Wegmans School of Pharmacy created a culture that fostered student success and growth of the school,” said Dr. Donald E. Bain, president of St. John Fisher College. “His zeal for life and his passion for his career went hand in hand, and his absence on our campus and in our community will be felt for some time. He was loved by many and will be missed by all. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Swigart is survived by his wife, Cindy; his daughter, Kim, a 2011 graduate of the Wegmans School of Pharmacy; and his son, Scott, who is a junior at Fisher.
Christine Birnie, associate professor and department chair of Pharmaceutical Sciences, is serving as interim dean of the Wegmans School of Pharmacy. Birnie joined the school in 2006 as a founding faculty member and was promoted to department chair in 2010. Most recently, she also served as the interim associate dean.
The Fisher School of Pharmacy became an extension of Swigart’s family over the past year, as he underwent treatment for cancer. Faculty, staff, and students created purple “Team Swigart” pins, bracelets, and t-shirts, which were worn by members of the Fisher community on a daily basis. This past November, Swigart himself led “Team Swigart” at the Step-it-Up Walk for the Pancreatic Cancer Association of Western New York, raising the most money of any participating teams.
Under Swigart’s leadership, the school experienced tremendous growth, and year after year its graduates achieve some of the most successful licensure-exam pass rates in the state, a statement from the school reported.
“In addition, he has nurtured a strong community-minded atmosphere in the School of Pharmacy. Teams of faculty and students regularly travel on domestic and international medical mission trips to provide free medical care to underserved populations and hold an annual Day of Service, among a variety of other service activities,” the statement said.
Swigart’s academic pharmacy experience spanned nearly 30 years. Before coming to Fisher, he spent five years as a professor and founding dean at the Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Before that, he held positions as assistant dean and head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice at Nova Southeastern University College of Pharmacy in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; and headed the Department of Pharmacy Practice at Ferris State University College of Pharmacy in Big Rapids, Mich.
–Christine Blank, Contributing Editor