Remembering the Legacy of Dean Emeritus Michael Schwartz

Michael Schwartz, Ph.D., a dean emeritus and beloved figure around the University of Florida College of Pharmacy for the past 46 years, passed away on March 28.

Nearly half of Schwartz’s life was dedicated to serving the UF College of Pharmacy. He became the college’s fifth dean in April 1978 and held the role until 1996. During his tenure, the college expanded from two departments to five and the number of faculty nearly doubled from 29 to 50. Schwartz hired many distinguished pharmaceutical researchers and helped establish the college as one of the nation’s leading research institutions — with annual research funding increasing from $250,000 in 1978 to more than $7 million in 1996.

Dean Michael Schwartz

Schwartz was trained as a basic scientist, having earned a master’s degree from Columbia University in 1956 and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in 1959, yet he saw the importance in building a strong clinical program. Under his leadership, the college hired several well-respected clinical faculty members, developed a state-wide clerkship program to train students alongside working pharmacists and partnered with University Hospital in Jacksonville to manage its pharmacy. He also oversaw a curriculum transformation that shifted the focus from pharmaceutical products to patients.

“Dean Schwartz appreciated the value of a clinical pharmacist at a time when clinical pharmacy was still in its infancy,” said John Gums, Pharm.D., FCCP, an executive associate dean in the UF College of Pharmacy and a clinical pharmacy faculty member hired by Schwartz in 1985. “He had the foresight and courage to expand the clinical pharmacy program at a time when many classically trained basic scientists would not have done so.”

Schwartz’s legacy in the UF College of Pharmacy continues through several signature events that were established during his tenure. He founded the Annual Research Showcase to bring greater visibility to the college’s research efforts and promote collaboration among departments. Over the years, it has become an important venue for students and trainees to present their research to the college and scientific community. The college’s Annual Alumni BBQ began in the 1980s and continues today as a venue for hundreds of Gator pharmacists to reunite before a Florida Gators football game.

When Schwartz left the deanship, he remained on faculty for seven years before officially retiring from UF in 2003. Though he left his full-time role, he maintained strong ties to the college. He taught a Thinking Skills elective course to Pharm.D. students as recently as 2023 and regularly attended college events, including the 35th Annual Alumni BBQ in November.

“The entire UF College of Pharmacy community mourns the passing of Dean Schwartz, as we fondly remember his valuable contributions over the years,” said Peter W. Swaan, Ph.D., M.Pharm., dean and professor in the UF College of Pharmacy. “When reflecting upon the most influential people in the first century of the UF College of Pharmacy, Dean Schwartz undoubtedly ranks near the top of the list. Even in his later years, he remained committed to sharing his wisdom and experiences with our pharmacy students.”

During the UF College of Pharmacy’s centennial year in 2023, Schwartz participated in an interview for GATORx magazine reflecting upon his years of service and strong ties to the college.

“Becoming dean of the UF College of Pharmacy proved to be an opportunity greater than I could have ever imagined,” said Schwartz, who died at the age of 93. “I often tell the pharmacy students in my class to ‘go where your heart tells you and find a place to work where you fit well.’ It has been so true for my life.”

Prior to joining the UF College of Pharmacy, Schwartz served as a pharmacy dean at the State University of New York at Buffalo from 1970-76. He held many different leadership roles with national pharmacy organizations, including the American Pharmacists Association, or APhA; the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists, or AAPS; the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy; and the American Council on Pharmacy Education. He was elected as a Fellow of the APhA Academy of Pharmaceutical Research and Sciences as well as the American Association for Advancement of Science and the AAPS. In 1995, he received the Hugo H. Schaefer Award from the APhA, and in 2007, he was awarded a Citation of Merit from the University of Wisconsin.

Schwartz also generously gave his time to better the Gainesville community. He served on the board of Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Gainesville and was president from 1999-2000. He also served on the board of the Jewish Council of North Central Florida and completed the Leadership Gainesville program.

The UF College of Pharmacy joins Dean Schwartz’s wife, Karan, and his family in mourning his passing.

A memorial service in his honor took place on April 1 at Congregation B’nai Israel in Gainesville. A recording of the service is available through this website.

The college has established the Dean Schwartz Memorial Fund for those who wish to make a gift in his honor. If sending a check, please use one of the addresses below:

  • If sending via FedEx: Attn: Christie Priddy, 1225 Center Drive, Room 2305, Gainesville, FL 32610
  • If sending via USPS: PO Box 103570, Gainesville, FL 32610