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L.F. Swails, FMU biology department chair, to retire

FLORENCE -- Dr. L.F. “Larry” Swails, Francis Marion University’s biology department chair since 1982, will step down at the end of the 1999 spring semester to retire.

Swails will return to teach part-time in the 1999-2000 academic year.  He served as a biology professor at Francis Marion University since its beginning in 1970, as one of the institution’s original faculty members.

Swails has served as director of FMU’s Arboretum, Greenhouse and Herbarium.  He began developing the arboretum in 1990.  The goal was to have an on-campus outdoor laboratory for the study and conservation of native plants on a three-acre site on campus.

His love of nature has led Swails to assist in the development of nature trails for West Florence High School, Lester Elementary School and Sexton Camp of Central Methodist Church.

Gardening and wildflower photography are two of his hobbies.  Swails has often led field trips and conducted slide presentations on South Carolina native vegetation.  He leads tours each spring on the Francis Marion campus, discussing the landscape and identifying blooms and blossoms.

Swails earned his Ph.D. in botany from the University of Cincinnati in 1966 and his M.S. and A.B. in biology from the University of South Carolina.  He is originally from Kingstree.

Swails is a member of the Association of Southeastern Biologists, the South Carolina Academy of Science, and the Southern Appalachian Botanical Club.  His replacement should be appointed by July 1, said Dr. James H. Von Frank, Dean of FMU’s School of Arts and Sciences.  A national search is underway for a new biology department chair.

“Dr. Swails is a great communicator between faculty and administration,” said Dr. Tom Roop, a biology faculty member at FMU since 1972.  “There has to be a special place in heaven for a chairman who, in Fall 1996, was able to place 90 students in classes that were closed.  We were busting out at the seams, but our biology students were accommodated.  He is truly a caring and warm man.”

“He loves black bananas and the great outdoors.  The deeper the woods, the more he likes them,” jokes biology lab assistant Diane Scarborough, who has worked with Swails at FMU for 21 years.  “He will never be replaced and will be sorely missed by our department.  He is what makes our department so successful.  I certainly feel privileged to have known and worked with such a fine person as Dr. Swails,” Scarborough added.                           



Last Published: October 15, 2008 1:12 PM
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