Peter Swaan, Ph.D., M.Pharm., began his tenure as dean of the University of Florida College of Pharmacy on Dec. 1. He joined UF after nearly two decades at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, where he held several leadership roles. Most recently, he served as the associate dean for research and advanced graduate education as well as a professor and chair in the department of pharmaceutical sciences. In May, he was appointed to a distinguished university professorship in recognition of his extraordinary leadership and significant contributions to the pharmaceutical sciences.
As Swaan settles into his new role leading one of the nation’s top 5-ranked pharmacy colleges, he shared some insight into what attracted him to UF and his vision for the college.
How eager are you to finally start your new role as dean of the UF College of Pharmacy?
It’s exciting to finally get started as dean. As I finished my final commitments at the University of Maryland this fall, I have been slowly acclimating myself to the UF College of Pharmacy and meeting with the leadership team. These meetings have allowed me to gain insight into the finances and operations of the college as well as learn about the different departments. Interim Dean John Gums has served the college admirably during the transition between deans, and I am extremely grateful for all the support he has provided in familiarizing me with the college and this new role.
What excited you about this position?
The UF College of Pharmacy is a great school. We have been pioneers in the pharmacy profession for many decades, and many milestones have been achieved here that have made us a beacon of pharmacy education and research. More importantly, there are many exciting things on the horizon, including UF’s artificial intelligence initiative and opportunities to expand our clinical footprint, which will keep our college at the forefront of science and the profession for years to come.
How will your training and work experience at some of the nation’s top pharmacy colleges benefit you in this new role at UF?
My connections across academic pharmacy will be invaluable. The challenges and opportunities we face at UF are very similar to our peer institutions. It’s important to build a strong network of colleagues who can help you navigate different situations and rely upon each other for advice. I have worked side-by-side with Natalie Eddington, Ph.D., a professor and dean of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, for many years and a gained a unique perspective from her on what it takes to successfully lead a college.
Note: Swaan’s academic and professional career includes stops at the University of Michigan; the University of California, San Francisco; the Ohio State University; and the University of Maryland.
As you look ahead to 2023, what will be some of your priorities as dean?
Next year promises to be a monumental year for our college. Not only will we celebrate our centennial — which is a significant point of pride for our alumni, faculty, staff, students and all those associated with our college — but we will also open the new Malachowsky Hall for Data Science & Information Technology. This new space will bring interdisciplinary teams from across the university together to work on big data. UF is well-positioned as a leader in artificial intelligence across higher education, and this new building will only take us to the next level in terms of AI research and education.
What are your interests outside of work?
I am a runner and an amateur mountaineer. I have been to Everest Base Camp twice and climbed a couple of 6,000-meter (20,000 ft) mountain peaks. One of my dreams is to go to K2 Base Camp in Pakistan, which is the second-highest mountain in the world behind Everest. It’s an extremely difficult place to travel to, but once you are there, you are surrounded by all these stunning mountains.