The IUP community has lost a classmate, friend, former president and brother.
Junior political science major Brian Swatt, 21, died in a car accident on June 7.
At IUP, Brian served as Student Government Association president, a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and a member of the College Republicans. He also became an Eagle Scout in 2016.
“Having worked in higher education for over ten years, I have come in contact with many students and student leaders,” said Kevin Foster, assistant director for the Center for Multicultural Student Leadership and Engagement. “I have experienced that there are a select few that have the qualities that Brian had. When he took on the role of being president, he did it knowing that the position and his actions were bigger than him as an individual.
“Publicly, he would demonstrate great confidence in his ideals and the actions he wanted to take. Privately, he was always tooling and reflecting on how he could be a better leader. We would talk for hours about what it meant to be a leader. How to inspire rather than direct individuals.”
During his time as the appointee of Gov. Tom Wolf on the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, he represented more than 13,000 students and oversaw the budget in conjunction with the Student Cooperative Association Finance Board.
"Brian led with integrity and intelligence, and we are grateful to have had him serve on the Board of Governors,” Chancellor Dan Greenstein said. “He will be missed terribly. This loss is felt by everyone at the State System of Higher Education, and our hearts and prayers are with the Swatt Family and the entire Indiana University of Pennsylvania community.”
He interned with Sen. Don White and continued to work with Joe Pittman after Pittman filled the seat when White retired.
“He was my right arm, my shadow, my confidant and my friend,” Pittman said in a Condolence Resolution on the Floor of the Senate Thursday in honor of Brian. “Many asked as we were campaigning if he was my son. As time went on, it began to feel as if he was.
“Brian Swatt was an important part of this institution. And while he served for only a short time – just four days as a member of my staff – this institution has been made better because of him.”
Outside of academics, Brian worked as a server at Tom’s Pizza on South Seventh Street in Indiana.
“He was just a great worker,” said Kristina Karahalios, owner and operator of Tom’s Pizza. “I felt like he was my little brother. I really enjoyed the time with him decorating for Christmas and shopping with him for our store Christmas decorations.
“He was always willing to help me no matter what. [He was] not only a good employee but a good friend. I’ll never forget his laugh.”
A funeral mass was held Monday in commemoration of Brian’s life. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help outweigh the costs for the family.
In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations to made in Brian’s memory to Goose Pond Scout Reservation Capital Building Fund. Checks can be made payable to: NEPA Council BSA, 72 Montage Mountain Rd., Moosic, PA 18507.
“All I have left to say, as much as I hope I was able to help Brian grow as a leader and a person, he helped me,” Foster said. “I look forward to the next time we meet and have those conversations again. I’m sure there will be a long line. He will be in his glory, debating and arguing his position for eternity.”