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Dana Swan
Dana Swan

Dana Swan, Former Coach, Athletic Director and Associate Director of Admission, Dies at Age 76

Dana W. Swan II, who served Haverford College as football and lacrosse coach, Athletic Director, and Associate Director of Admission, died Tuesday, June 10 at his home in Haverford, Pa., of cancer. He was 76.

“Dana Swan was a true friend and a mentor to literally hundreds of Haverfordians,” says Haverford President Stephen G. Emerson, who, as a Haverford student in the 70s, played on the very lacrosse team Swan founded. “He will be missed by all.”

“Through his work in athletics and admissions, Dana mentored and impacted the lives of numerous Haverford students,” says current Athletic Director Wendy Smith. “His commitment to Haverford College and especially to athletics and the principles of sportsmanship, excellence, respect and leadership make Dana a supreme representative of everything we strive to instill in our student-athletes.”

Born March 15, 1932 in Philadelphia, Swan graduated from Swarthmore High School and served two years with the United States Marine Corps before going on to receive his bachelor’s degree in history from Swarthmore College, where he excelled at varsity football and baseball. He attended Pennsylvania State University’s School of Education and the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He taught American history at Swarthmore High School and English at Pennsylvania Military College, coached football at Swarthmore College, and was an assistant professor of physical education and football and lacrosse coach at Washington & Lee University in Lexington, Va., before coming to Haverford in 1968.

Swan coached Haverford’s football team from 1968-1972. Right up until the sport was discontinued at the College, Swan produced strong players, including NCAA College Division All-American Doug Nichols ’73. The last game over which Swan presided as coach was, ironically, a 22-21 victory over his alma mater, Swarthmore. He went on to coach lacrosse from 1972-1986. He was Haverford’s Athletic Director from 1969-1982, and was Associate Director of Admission from 1982 until his retirement in 2002.

“Dana Swan guided Haverford athletics through an important and challenging period from the late 1960s to the early 1980s,” says Greg Kannerstein, Dean of Haverford and former Athletic Director. “He was able to take the disappointment of the College’s dropping football and turn it into a positive by founding the men’s lacrosse team and coaching it for several years. During his tenure as athletic director, Haverford’s current track and field dynasty got rolling and men’s soccer teams frequently made NCAA tournaments. It was an honor to succeed him as director of athletics.”

Swan was a member of the American Football Coaches Association, the United States Lacrosse Coaches Association, and the American Association of University Professors.

He is survived by his wife, Joan, and by three daughters: Susan Swan Smith, Betsy Swan and Martha Swan Melichar. He is predeceased by his first wife, Priscilla. A memorial service will be held at the Haverford Meeting House on Saturday, June 21 at 2 p.m.

The College is currently constructing a synthetic turf field to the west of the observatory, which will be named Swan Field in Swan’s honor. It will be ready for use in September.

The ramp from Magill Library with Ryan Gym and Sharpless Hall in the background.

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