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Palm Beach Atlantic University swears in first female president

Dr. Debra Schwinn looking forward to doubling student body
Posted at 5:52 AM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-08 10:12:55-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — History was made Friday morning as Palm Beach Atlantic University swore in its first female president.

A special ceremony was held for Dr. Debra Schwinn, the ninth president in the school's history.

She's already been serving as president for the past year and a half but her inauguration was delayed because of the pandemic.

The ceremony occurred at the Family Church located in downtown West Palm Beach at 10 a.m. Several elected officials, students, faculty and staff will be in attendance

Debra Schwinn is not only the first female president but also the first medical doctor to serve as president of the school. Her medical background and expertise have led to some significant accomplishments during the pandemic.

During her short time here, she's set up an aggressive testing and contract tracing program which allowed PBAU to become one of the few local institutions to remain open with in-person classes.

Before coming to West Palm Beach with her husband, she most recently served as dean of the school of medicine at the University of Iowa and associate vice president for medical affairs.

She said this was a position that she was called to do even before the pandemic.

"When I walked on campus here, I did not think that I was going to use my clinical expertise, because I was asked to be president in January 2020, prior to even knowing COVID was going to be an issue. So, when I arrived, having that clinical knowledge was very, very helpful. Because it let me put together people in teams that could really take care of our students," Schwinn said.

As for her long-term goals, Schwinn said she is looking forward to doubling the student body. Right now there are about 2,400 students enrolled at the school.

She is also working on developing a partnership with Cleveland Clinic to open a medical facility on campus. The two-fold project will not only help train students but also offer health care services to the community.