H. Patrick Swygert served as president of Howard University during the period August 1, 1995 to June 30, 2008, he assumed the position of President Emeritus on July 1, 2008 and is a Howard University professor of law.
Mr. Swygert, born in 1943, is an alumnus of Howard University, having earned his undergraduate degree and law degree (cum laude) from the University in 1965 and 1968. He received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the University of New England in 1997, an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Temple University in 1999, and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Tuskegee University in 2002. In 2008, he received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Hampton University and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Howard University; and in 2009 he received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree for Drexel University.
Mr. Swygert received the Medallion of the University, the highest honor of the University at Albany, State University of New York, on February 14, 2002. He was president of that institution, a public research university, from 1990 until accepting the presidency of Howard in 1995.
Prior to assuming the presidency at Albany, Mr. Swygert had been associated with Temple University in Philadelphia beginning in 1972, when he was appointed to the faculty of the School of Law. In 1987, he was named executive vice president of Temple University. From 1982 to 1987 he was vice president for university administration, and served as special counsel to the president of Temple University from 1980 to 1982.
Mr. Swygert served as a visiting professor at the Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law during several summers from 1982 to 1990. He also was a visiting professor of the Faculty of Law of the University of Ghana in 1975 and 1976; and visiting lecturer/visitor of Cairo, Egypt; Athens, Greece; and Rome, Italy. Additionally, Mr. Swygert has lectured abroad in a number of other countries, including the Hungarian Ministry of Higher Education and the SUNY Center for Private Enterprise Development in Budapest. Mr. Swygert has acknowledgments from institutions of higher learning, community and professional associations including selection in 2000 as a Washingtonian of the Year by Washingtonian Magazine for his leadership of the successful Howard University-Fannie Mae LeDroit Park Community Revitalization Project, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. Equal Justice Award and, in 2001, the District of Columbia Building Industry Association Achievement Award.
Currently, Mr. Swygert is a member of the board of directors of United Technologies Corporation, Hartford, CT, The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., Hartford, CT and the Central Intelligence Agency External Advisory Board. He also serves as a member of the Advisory Council for the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African-American History and Culture. Mr. Swygert was a member of the Fannie Mae board of directors, 2000 – September, 2008. Mr. Swygert was recently appointed Chairman of the Cheyney State University Advisory Team in September of 2008. Recently, Mr. Swygert was asked by Medgar Evers College of the CUNY System to assist the incoming president, Dr. William Pollard, to conduct a management and organizational review. Mr. Swygert also served as Chairman of the Community Business Partnership of the Greater Washington Board of Trade. In 1993, Mr. Swygert served as Chairman of the New York State Special Commission on Educational Structure, Policies and Practices. In June 2004, Mr. Swygert was appointed to the Eisenhower Fellowships Board in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Bar, and the State of New York Bar.
In addition to his academic career, Mr. Swygert has held several government positions. In 1979, he served as Special Counsel to the Merit Systems Protection Board. From 1977 to 1979, he was general counsel of the U.S. Civil Service Commission. He also served as law clerk to Chief Judge William H. Hastie of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia; administrative assistant to Congressman Charles B. Rangel, D-NY, Special Assistant District Attorney in Philadelphia under then District Attorney, now United States Senator, Arlen Specter; and as an associate with the New York City law firm of Debevoise, Plimpton, Lyons & Gates.
From 2002 to 2006, Mr. Swygert served as Chairman of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Capital Financing Program Advisory Board of the U.S. Department of Education. On August 8, 2002, President George W. Bush appointed Mr. Swygert as a member of the Brown v. Board of Education Commemoration Commission. In 2004, District of Columbia Mayor Anthony Williams, appointed Mr. Swygert to the DC Emancipation Commemoration Commission, and on November 15, 2004, Secretary of State, Colin L. Powell, appointed him to serve on the United States National Commission for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Mr. Swygert is also a member of the Commission on Presidential Debates.
On June 4, 2003, Mr. Swygert received the “Special Friend” award from the American Friends of Lubavitch at their annual dinner, and on May 21, 2003, he received the “Education Award” from the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ) at the 2003 Brotherhood Sisterhood Award Dinner. In 2004, at the Congressional Black Caucus’ 34th Annual Legislative Conference, Mr. Swygert was presented with the Congressional Black Caucus Chair’s Award in recognition of his efforts on behalf of higher education, and on July 30, 2005, he was honored with the National Urban League 2005 Legend Award for dedicated leadership and commitment to the education of young people. On October 7, 2006, the Amistad Center for Arts and Culture at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art of Hartford, Connecticut honored Mr. Swygert for his contributions to the arts and education. Mr. Swygert was recognized on September 8, 2008 by the Board of Advisors of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities for his contributions to the HBCU community.
Mr. Swygert is a native of Philadelphia. He has two sons, H. Patrick, Jr. and Michael B.