Robert Garrigues, Ph.D., associate dean emeritus of the college and a beloved instructor, passed away July 18 at age 84.
“He was always so encouraging and made time for his students,” said Stephania Hayes, a 2008 graduate of the bachelor’s in health science program. “I’ll always remember his stories, his positive energy, and how he supported my journey into grad school.”
Dr. Garrigues held top financial appointments in UF Health Science Center administration for 28 years, including the post of associate vice president for finance and operations, with responsibility for all of the center’s financial, operational and physical plant functions. During that time, he also taught students in the college’s master’s in health administration program.
“As a practicing health services administrator, Dr. Garrigues shared with our students his real-world experiences of delivering health care in an academic health center environment,” said R. Paul Duncan, Ph.D., a professor and former chair of the department of health services research, management and policy, and senior associate dean of the UF Graduate School. “He repeatedly told them that the technical skills they were learning in the classroom wouldn’t extend very far if they didn’t also understand and appreciate the conceptual underpinnings of health care management. His singing and acting with Gainesville Community Playhouse also reminded our students that health care administrators could have a life outside of work.”
After a reorganization of the office of the vice president for health affairs in 1998, Dr. Garrigues transitioned to the role of associate dean of administrative affairs and lecturer at the College of Health Professions, as the college was then known. His leadership contributions included serving as interim chair of the physical therapy department and as residency coordinator for the master’s in health administration program.
“During my time here, I think all I’ve really done is set a tone for how to treat people at all levels, and in a university setting, it’s all about the people,” he said in 2003.
For Dr. Garrigues, one of the most gratifying aspects of his career was teaching courses in the college’s undergraduate health science program, which he continued to do well after his retirement as associate dean in 2003.
“Dr. G truly added zest to our coursework and I will forever remember his genuine interest in each of our progress as future health care providers,” said Bridgette Reutter, a 2005 bachelor’s of health science and 2006 master’s of occupational therapy graduate. “What an honor to have known and worked with him.”
He received the college’s Teacher of the Year award in 2002 and the Teaching Excellence Award in 2015.
“He is simply one of the most beloved teachers we have ever had in the college,” said Michael G. Perri, Ph.D., dean of the college, when presenting the award to Dr. Garrigues in 2015.
Ashley-Marie Bodor, a 2013 graduate of the bachelor’s in health science program, recalls Dr. Garrigues’ enthusiasm and passion for teaching.
“I learned more about leadership, management and myself from Dr. G than I did in any other class at UF, and I got two bachelor’s degrees,” Bodor said. “Dr. G was a key mentor and supporter during a transitional time for me. I had decided to change career paths from physician assistant to nursing. He supported and encouraged me during the difficult time of waiting for acceptance into nursing school. I went on to UF’s accelerated nursing program and now I’m a lung transplant nurse coordinator.”
Cesar Escobar-Viera, who received a master’s in public health in 2011 and a doctorate in health services research in 2015, served as a teaching assistant for Dr. Garrigues’ health care leadership class.
“He was nothing but encouraging, funny, respectful and wise,” Escobar-Viera said. “He was always ready to cheer up his students.”
Outside of UF, Dr. Garrigues was an active volunteer with Gainesville Community Playhouse since the 1970s. Over the years, he directed and acted in numerous productions and he served on the playhouse’s board of directors. He also spearheaded an effort to raise $750,000 to build a much-needed new theater.