Centennial Kickoff Celebration commemorates 100 years of pharmacy greatness

With confetti falling from the sky during a ceremonial ribbon cutting, the University of Florida College of Pharmacy officially kicked off its centennial year with a once-in-a-lifetime party on Jan. 26 in Gainesville. More than 400 guests attended the Centennial Kickoff Celebration on a sun-soaked afternoon to commemorate the 100th anniversary of UF’s oldest health college.

Centennial Ribbon Cutting
Dean Peter Swaan led a ceremonial ribbon cutting marking the start of the college’s centennial year.

The festivities included everything you would expect at a birthday party. Guests enjoyed centennial cupcakes, took pictures with Albert, UF’s mascot, and spun a prize wheel to win centennial-themed swag items. Orange and blue decorations filled the pharmacy courtyard, with centennial banners hanging from the light poles and a life-size cutout featuring the number 100 on the stage.

Many distinguished guests attended the event, including leadership from UF and UF Health, current and former pharmacy college deans, members of the college’s Dean’s Leadership Council as well as hundreds of faculty, staff, students and alumni. The centennial party celebrated the college’s legacy and inspired pride among those who have been impacted by the UF College of Pharmacy over the years.

UF College of Pharmacy Dean Peter Swaan led a 30-minute program that featured remarks from influential leaders who shared memories and milestones from the first 100 years. David Nelson, M.D., senior vice president of health affairs at UF and president of UF Health, offered a video tribute recognizing the college’s contributions toward making UF Health one of the nation’s premier academic health centers, while Distinguished Professor and former dean Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., recapped many historic achievements in the college’s history.

Julie Al-Bahou
Julie Al-Bahou, a fourth-year student and member of the college’s centennial class, delivered remarks at the ceremony.

Michele Weizer, Pharm.D., BCPS, a 1990 graduate of the UF College of Pharmacy and division director of pharmacy operations for HCA East Florida, spoke about the importance of alumni paying it forward and serving the next generation of pharmacists in training. Julie Al-Bahou, a fourth-year student and member of the college’s centennial class, shared how the college has trained her to be a leader in the profession and the pride she shares in following in the footsteps of many distinguished alumni.

“I am proud to represent the centennial class and the rich legacy and history of the UF College of Pharmacy,” Al-Bahou said. “It’s humbling to think back to the college’s modest beginnings, and now a century later, we celebrate the growth, diversity and progress.”

Swaan, who began his tenure as the UF College of Pharmacy’s eighth dean on Dec. 1, 2022, delivered the closing remarks. He reflected on the vision shared amongst the college’s founding members in the early 20th century and how the college has fulfilled that vision through 100 years of pharmacy greatness. He also looked ahead to the college’s second century and how it will lead pharmacy education into the future.

“The enlightenment of pharmacy in our second century will focus on clinical innovations, new partnerships to expand our footprint in Florida, and research endeavors that will push the boundaries of science and lead to discoveries that will improve the lives of patients around the world,” Swaan, Ph.D., M.Pharm. said. “We will be leaders and role models in academic pharmacy and enhance UF’s reputation as a preeminent university.”

All the event speakers gathered on stage at the end of the ceremony to cut a orange and blue ribbon — officially marking the start of a year-long centennial celebration for the college. Cheers echoed through the courtyard and confetti cannons fired high into the sky as Swaan sliced the ribbon with the large ceremonial scissors.

More than a dozen events are planned in 2023 to commemorate the college’s centennial year. For more information, please visit the UF College of Pharmacy’s centennial website.


Albert and student