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UF College of Pharmacy celebrates centennial year

The college remains the oldest in the UF Health Science Center

<p>Michele Weizer, the division director of pharmacy operations for HCA East Florida, gives an address to the audience of faculty, students and supporters for the UF College of Pharmacy Centennial Kickoff celebration Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023.</p>

Michele Weizer, the division director of pharmacy operations for HCA East Florida, gives an address to the audience of faculty, students and supporters for the UF College of Pharmacy Centennial Kickoff celebration Thursday, Jan. 26, 2023.

UF’s College of Pharmacy can now officially boast 100 years of experience

As the oldest college in the UF Health Science Center and a top-five ranked pharmacy college in the U.S., the college held a centennial celebration Thursday to recognize its century-long stay at the university. 

Current students, faculty and alumni mingled in the Health Professions, Nursing and Pharmacy (HPNP) building’s courtyard throughout the celebratory event. As blue-and-orange-colored balloons and confetti studded the area’s perimeter, many reflected on the UF College of Pharmacy’s values — and what has kept it around for so many years. 

For Peter Swaan, dean and professor at the UF College of Pharmacy, the college’s success can be credited to its members' excellence in research.

“The faculty have always been at the forefront of scientific discoveries,” he said. “So, it has informed new and innovative ways of dealing with healthcare.” 

Swaan, appointed to UF’s College of Pharmacy in December, previously served as the chair and associate dean for research at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. His primary motivation to come to UF was his admiration for the school’s academic outcomes, he said. 

“UF… has always been a beacon for pharmacy,” Swaan said. “I wanted to be part of that innovation.” 

Julie Al-Bahou, a 27-year-old UF pharmacy senior and member of the college's centennial class, said Thursday’s celebration prompted her to reflect on her own motivations to join the now century-old program. Her passion for patient care originated in the years she spent growing up in Damascus, Syria, she said. 

“I had a family member who had cancer; I always wanted to be involved in the innovative process of trying to figure out treatment,” she said. “When I moved to the United States, I wanted to continue the path.” 

Alongside lively music and an appearance from Albert the Gator, the celebration featured a space for current UF faculty and students to speak to the qualities that have shaped the university’s College of Pharmacy over the past century. For John Taylor, a 73-year-old UF pharmacy alumnus, these sentiments rang true for him more than anything, he said. 

Since he graduated from UF’s pharmacy program in 1972, a lot has changed, he said. 

“Facilities [have changed] more than anything,” Taylor said. “None of those bricks were here,” he said, pointing out the academic buildings surrounding the HPNP courtyard. 

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Taylor used the centennial to consider his close relationship to the UF College of Pharmacy, as he, his father and his son have all attended it. He hopes for current students to continue to build similarly meaningful bonds with each other, he said. 

Current UF Pharmacy students like Leon Chen, a 23-year-old UF pharmacy sophomore, related to this perspective — expressing his interest in building relationships with those in his college. 

“I do want to network a little with other professors,” Chen said. “To see what my options are as a career for the future, as well.” 

Student attendees of the UF College of Pharmacy’s Centennial Celebration all seemed to agree upon the importance of one value: advancement. Seejah Stephens, a 22-year-old UF pharmacy freshman, said joining UF’s pharmacy program was ideal due to the field’s room for upward development.

“It’s not stagnant,” Stephens said. “There’s a lot of career paths that you can go in. From today’s centennial celebration, I’ll just try to advance the field of pharmacy the best way that I can.” 

Sydney Johnson contributed to this report.

Contact Halima at hattah@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter @HalimaAttah.

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Halima Attah

Halima Attah is a first-year journalism student and university reporter for The Alligator. When she’s not writing, you can probably find her thrifting on Depop or listening to her carefully curated Spotify playlists.


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