Retirement Spotlight: Svein Øie

Former Dean Svein Øie Finds Joy in Watching Others Thrive

His list of successes at the College of Pharmacy is too lengthy to capture in the lead of this story. You’ll have to scroll to the end of this profile to discover them. Yet, Dr. Svein Øie, who claimed the title of “Dean” at CoP for more than 18 years (2000-2018), quickly will tell you that “…my greatest joy was to watch our faculty, students and staff thrive, develop, and mature, often as they assumed new roles away from the College.”

The native of Norway is passionate about his scholarship and research, which includes “Strategies for Increased Oral Absorption and Drug Targeting” and “Biochemical and Clinical Factors Influencing Disposition and Pharmacologic Activity of Drugs.” So much so, that he opted to return to the classroom when he stepped down as Dean two years ago.  But after more than 45-years in academia, the sounds of the waves on a sandy beach in North Florida and the clickety-clack of a miniature railroad are beckoning his retirement. “My plans are to get people interested in garden railroading and being a part-time beach bum!” he said with his signature mischievous grin.

Svein’s contributions to the College of Pharmacy speak for themselves, including almost 20 years of leadership that represented possibly the greatest growth in history of the College,” said Dr. Brian Cummings, PBS Department Head and Professor. “Despite these accomplishments, what has always resonated with me is Svein’s reserve and contemplating nature, combined with an ability to consider multiple factors and how they influence our mission. I will always be grateful for his advice and input when he transitioned back to PBS in 2018.  He has been an outstanding faculty citizen, taking on additional classes, spurring new programs, such as the Double Dawg degree with Engineering, and serving as a respected voice in the Department. To have someone of his experience has been invaluable, and he will be greatly missed.”

Added Dean Kelly Smith, who succeeded Svein at the helm in 2018, “I have the greatest admiration and respect for Dr. Øie’s achievements, accomplishments and longstanding leadership of the College. I quickly learned that behind his quiet, unassuming nature are a sharp wit, strategic mindset, and fierce passion for the success of the College of Pharmacy and each one of us within it. He has left an indelible mark on this College, and his legacy will be enduring. I wish he and Barbara much joy and happiness in their new chapter. Retirement will be an adventure that is richly deserved.”

No doubt, his signature award-winning brisk walks, frequently spotted (in a blur!) in Five Points, will be among his retirement activities. Who can ever forget the Summer of 2017, when the College participated in HealthTrails, the University System of Georgia’s walking program?  Under his leadership, support, and encouragement, CoP came in 5th place out of 162 teams across the state; our College was dubbed the “healthiest” on the UGA campus; and HE, Svein Øie, tied for FIRST PLACE among more than 1,000 participants in the entire contest!  Read more about CoP’s memorable HealthTrails experience.

Enjoy his profile and learn how Dr. Øie’s influences will be felt for years to come.

When did you start at the College? Why were you interested in joining the College?

I can recall vividly as if it were yesterday my excitement about becoming the sixth Dean of the UGA College of Pharmacy on January 1, 2000. I must admit that becoming a Dean was never on my Bucket List. As I reflect back on my years at the University of California at San Francisco, it was clear that I continued to assume more and more administrative responsibilities.  Not only did I enjoy the challenges but I was credited with being able to bridge faculty concerns while working with the upper administration on difficult administrative issues. As Chair of the Academic Senate in San Francisco, I was part of the University’s site visit for its Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation. Dr. Karen Holbrook, Provost at UGA at time, was one of the members of the review team, and during the course of a week, we had many conversations, in which she shared her enthusiasm for UGA and its future possibilities. Soon after the accreditation visit, the position of Dean became available and I applied.

Who was a mentor or special person for you at the College of Pharmacy?

From College and Department administrators to faculty, staff, students, and not to forget our Custodial Night Crew, it is impossible to mention every special person. There are, however, four who stand out: Sue Foley, my first assistant for seven years; Dr. George Francisco, who you all know; Dr. Phil Greenspan, who I still consider to be the most intellectual faculty member in the College; and Dana Strickland, who, in addition to his Development responsibilities, bridged the important gap to our alumni, which made our Pharmacy family so much stronger. Additionally, there are three people who contributed uniquely to the College during my tenure. First, Ken Schroeder knew the ins and outs of our buildings, made them function to the maximum, and helped with the increased upkeep we faced as we continued to grow. Dr. Susan Fagan helped us see and develop our extended campuses, not as outposts but as integral and valuable components of the College. Dr. Lori Duke singlehandedly developed our Experience Programs and was a critical advocate for the basic training of our students.

What was your most indelible memory of the College?

During my first Commencement Ceremony in 2000, a student hugged me, lifted me up, and swung me around. Seeing our students brimming with enthusiasm about the future – what could be greater?

What is your greatest accomplishment/What do you want to be remembered for?

I wish I could take full credit for any number of things, but the truth is that we did it together. Things that stand out include developing a state-wide footprint, completing a 30-year dream of a building addition, updating the Wilson building, increasing our endowments ten-fold to help students and faculty alike, establishing residency programs, creating new education programs in the pharmaceutical sciences, the BS and MS programs in pharmaceutical sciences, the MS and Certificate Programs in Regulatory Affairs, developing an educational support program, and expanding the role of faculty in our operations. However, my greatest joy was to watch our faculty, students and staff thrive, develop and mature, often as they assumed new roles away from the College.

What will you miss the most?

As I think of UGA and the College of Pharmacy in the years ahead, I believe I will always remember the sense of service and public good embedded in the profession, along with all the interactions that I have had with the dedicated people in the College and our alumni. I hope I have contributed to its success. I know that I have felt privileged to serve.

What do you plan to do in retirement?

Besides railroading and being a beach bum, I will continue to look for new ways of contributing on a personal, professional, and/or societal level.


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