College mourns passing of Robert Garrigues

Garrigues headshot
Dr. Robert Garrigues

Robert Garrigues, Ph.D., associate dean emeritus of the college and a beloved instructor, passed away July 18.

“Dr. Bob Garrigues was an astute administrator and an outstanding teacher,” said Michael G. Perri, Ph.D., dean of the college. “For much of his career, his contributions centered on managing the finances of the Health Science Center, and he did so in an effective manner. But it is the latter part of his career, devoted to teaching, for which Dr. Garrigues was universally lauded and will long be remembered. A warm and thoughtful instructor, he truly cared about each and every student in his class. Indeed, the bonds of affection between Dr. Garrigues and his students were unparalleled. The legacy that he leaves reminds us all of the lasting impact that a caring professor can have on the lives of his students — a fitting tribute to the life of Dr. Garrigues!”

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,” Dr. Garrigues said in 2003.

Dr. Garrigues with students
Dr. Garrigues, surrounded by grateful students.

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. He received the college’s Teacher of the Year award in 2002 and the Teaching Excellence Award in 2015.

“Dr. Garrigues stands at the door and greets every student,” said Perri, when presenting the award to Dr. Garrigues in 2015. “He respects every student’s opinion, but helps sharpen their thinking. He marvels at what our students know and learn and how successful they are after they leave here, as so many of them stay in touch with him long after they have graduated. He is simply one of the most beloved teachers we have ever had in the college.”

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.”

Outside of UF, Dr. Garrigues was an active volunteer with Gainesville Community Playhouse since the 1970s. Over the years, he directed and acted in several 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.

A memorial service and celebration of Dr. Garrigues’ life will be held on Saturday, Aug. 25 at 11 a.m. at Trinity United Methodist Church, 4000 N.W. 53rd Ave. in Gainesville.