Sunday, March 16, 2008

David Parmer Swinehart

I started out as a music major in college.

I wandered around, stopped attending classes (nothing I would recommend - as it constitutes a "flunking out" black hole on your transcript), sat out, enrolled elsewhere, and came back to where I started - IPFW.

When I came back - heck - I didn't know what I wanted to do. I just knew that I needed to get a degree. Also, I wanted to take courses that would not bore me to death. After all, interest was key for me and that attend-your-class- thing.

After inhaling the "bulletin", one of the classes I settled on was an Introduction to Supervision. Boss people around...CHECK! That's something I was interested in :).

My professor was David P. Swinehart.

Now Swinehart - he wasn't outgoing and vivacious. He wasn't loud and obnoxious. He wasn't flashy.

What he was though, was thoughtful, insightful, and interesting. He was most excellent at bridging the classroom with reality. He was a good storyteller (the stories we heard about his time working as personnel director for Mayor Lebamoff - yowsa!). He was a good listener.

After taking his class, I decided to major in Organizational Leadership and Supervision and Professor Swinehart became my "official" advisor.

He was frickin' awesome because he got me. I think this was because he was a Libra (something which he used to laugh at when I brought up) . Regardless, Swinehart used his practical/pragmatic approach to keep me focused on the prize (i.e. get your damn degree already). He was honest and truthful (in a non-slam-on-your-fellow-colleague-way) about who were the best instructors (caveat: for ME).

I took classes from Pat Ashton and Bill Bruening because he said so.

I stayed away from classes with "X" and "Y" because he said so.

It was a good advisor/advisee relationship.

As time went on, Swinehart's availability became more limited because he was attending Law School at IUPUI (in the evenings). Literally, he would drive to Indy several days a week just to attend class. Dedication!!!

And the next part of the story should be - and they lived happily ever after....right? Well no.

Sadly on April 20, 1991, Professor Swinehart died at Parkview Memorial Hospital. It was quite upsetting and shocking for many of us and OLS was never the same. It was upsetting for me that he never got to see me earn my first degreee - and lord knows - the man pestered me enough to be there to see it happen!

The good news in this tragedy is that the students and faculty from OLS came together and created the David P. Swinehart Memorial Scholarship.

"This scholarship is given to an OLS major who most exemplifies Swinehart’s outstanding qualities of leadership ability, high academic performance, service to the school and community, and career development."

Seventeen years later - his legacy continues and if you're the lucky recipient for 2008 - know that this wasn't just some anonymous, scholarly, old-fogie, who pontificated from his tower about theories and what-if's. This was a man who left his mark on the world.

P.S. Who knew that way back then, one silly little intro class would have been the pebble that rocked my world - aka change my destiny forever?


Anonymous said...

I am David's oldest daughter & just now I see this lovely tribute to my father. The year this was posted was the year my daughter (Ashley Weimer) his first granddaughter found out she had cancer. Ashley passed in 2011 but would have been so proud to really know her grandfather! Thank you

Kristina said...

Hi There! It is SO good to hear from you. I got goosebumps coming back to this entry in my blog. Your father was a tremendous man. There's not a year that goes by that I don't thank my lucky stars that our lives collided. I'm so sorry about your daughter Ashley. I can't even imagine losing a child. I am so sorry for your loss.

Marry Jo said...

Thank you & all the best to you!