Like Father, Like Daughter

April 1, 2009
True blue: Schwartz and Rose share deep personal and professional ties to Duke.

True blue: Schwartz and Rose share deep personal and professional ties to Duke. Jared Lazarus

In a serendipitous convergence of institutional need and alumni loyalty, the Duke Alumni Association (DAA) welcomed the first father-daughter team to its board of directors.

Mike Schwartz M.H.A. '71, J.D. '82, who represents the graduate program in health administration, and Suzanne Schwartz Rose '94, an at-large member, were invited separately to join the 2008-09 board. Rose was contacted first, by DAA president Anne Pelham '74, and mentioned the invitation in passing to her father. A few days later, he got a call from Gordon Soenksen, associate dean for development and alumni relations at the Fuqua School of Business, asking him to represent the school on behalf of its graduate program in health administration, a volunteer role he had played in the early 1980s. Concerned there might be a conflict of interest, Schwartz double-checked  to make sure there wasn't, and readily agreed to serve.

For both generations, service to Duke comes naturally. Even though his parents couldn't afford to send him to Duke for his undergraduate education—he graduated from Virginia Military Institute—Schwartz had always admired the university. By a twist of fate, he happened to share a foxhole in Vietnam with a fellow Army lieutenant whose sister attended Duke, and the soldier convinced Schwartz to apply to the health-administration program.

Today, Schwartz is president and CEO of Prince William Health System in Virginia and credits his success to Duke. "I've spent my professional life in health administration, and I still use my law education in my daily work," he says. "Duke provided me with a quality education at a formative stage in my life, and everything I've done since then has been a continuation of those experiences. I am very loyal to Duke."

Schwartz was part of the administrative staff of Duke Hospital from 1971 to 1983, and played a leadership role in launching Duke Hospital North, serving as its first administrative director. Both Suzanne and her brother, David, were born there. Rose says that growing up in the Duke and Durham communities laid the groundwork for her own lifelong passion for Duke. "As a girl, I took swimming lessons with [Duke] coach [Jim] Persons, and when I came to Duke for college, I swam on the varsity team," she says, noting that another DAA board member, Amy Schick Kenney '96, M.E.M. '98, was a teammate.

Both Schwartz and Rose have been longtime volunteers for Duke—he as an Alumni Admissions Advisory Committee (AAAC) interviewer and a member of the Fuqua Alumni Advisory Council; she, as chair of the AAAC for the western suburbs of Chicago and a reunions committee member for her fifth- and tenth-year reunions.

Rose, an associate at Freeborn & Peters LLP, specializing in commercial litigation, notes that her service to Duke has had an unexpected bonus. "I contacted one of our AAAC volunteers to introduce myself and invited him to lunch," she says. That first meeting evolved into a friendship and then blossomed into romance: She and the volunteer, Kirk Rose '82, were married in 2007, and she became stepmother to his three children, including current Duke senior Elisabeth Rose.

"We joke that the AAAC was our version of," she says.

Given their abiding ties to Duke, both Schwartz and Rose have high praise for the DAA's work to date, while noting areas where it can strengthen its outreach efforts. For her part, Rose says she is particularly energized by Duke's commitment to civic engagement, from undergraduate initiatives such as DukeEngage to the network of community-service projects spearheaded by the DAA's clubs program. "One of the strong suits of Dukies is that they rally around the idea of helping others," she says. "I love the DAA tagline of 'engage, connect, celebrate.' I'm looking forward to furthering that mission." For example, she says, alumni turnout for Chicago club events is strong, but the challenge is how to appeal to the interests and energies of alumni who haven't yet gotten involved.

Schwartz says he would like to see increased participation from Duke's wide range of professional- and graduate-school alumni. "Graduate programs such as chemistry or philosophy have a culture that is quite different from that of the professional schools, and the departments are usually fairly small," he says. Students in schools such as medicine and law, on the other hand, belong to bigger communities, and thus have greater opportunities for bonding within and beyond their areas of academic interests. "The DAA can play a role in reaching out and communicating to all of these alumni that they are valued members of the larger Duke community."

As part of that larger, multigenerational community, both father and daughter see their roles on the DAA board as a way to support an entity that has shaped their lives. As Schwartz notes, "It's an honor and a privilege to be able to give back to an institution that has done so much for my family and me."