A Gentleman, a Family Man, a Man of the World

Remembering Seymour M. Blaug, the sixth dean of the UNC School of Pharmacy

Story by Kirsten Beattie | Published December 6, 2022

For those who knew Seymour M. Blaug, PhD, the school’s sixth Dean, it’s hard not to wonder what might have been. Seymour was appointed dean August 5, 1974, and served until his tragic and sudden death on November 19, 1975.

In his short time as Dean, Seymour strove to build community. Seymour’s wife, Babette Blaug, remembers that most nights they hosted gatherings at their home or in the community. They often visited pharmacies across the state, on their own or with other faculty friends and couples.

Seymour loved teaching, and his students appreciated his thoughtfulness and attention. He pursued passions in practice advancement and published research on drug stability, dosage form development and drug absorption. All combined to make him an ideal leader for the UNC School of Pharmacy.

But for those who knew Seymour well, they remember him most as a gentleman and a family man. He is described as a man of the world who enjoyed fine clothes, photography, the arts, politics, and tending to his lawn. He had a keen sense of humor, and “his rejoinders were priceless,” remembers Babette. To his four daughters – Carla, Suzanne, Amy, and Elisabeth – he was simply “Dad.” And to Babette, the love of her life.  

Born in 1923, Seymour grew up in New York City. He enrolled at New York University to study engineering. When World War II escalated, he enlisted in the army. After three years of tours in Italy and North Africa, Seymour switched gears. He enrolled at Columbia University, where he earned B.S. and M.S. degrees from their pharmacy school.

His journey to the Midwest and University of Iowa brought him to Babette, where they met at a party in Iowa City and fell in love at first sight. He earned his PhD and rose to full professor while the two established their family.

At Iowa, Seymour established a relationship with the pharmacy school at the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas. He and Babette traveled there over summers. Seymour would share his expertise, and in turn he helped to mentor and to recruit pharmacy students to Iowa. He continued this tradition while at Carolina. 

Another tradition Babette says that Seymour honored was a love of football at both schools. During his time in Iowa, he was known to be a “rabid” fan, she says. He supported Carolina football as fiercely, though with the quieter demeanor he viewed as more befitting a dean.

What would more years have allowed Seymour to accomplish? It is easy to imagine and a difficult loss to process. Whatever his accomplishments, though, he would have accepted them with quiet grace.  “He was gifted with modesty,” Babette recalls. “When his accomplishments were noted in a newspaper, journal or a meeting, he smiled. He did not blow his own horn. I did that for him at times.”