Passing of an MUSC legend: Bill Golod (1933-2023)

Roby Hill
November 15, 2023

There was no one like Bill Golod.

He saved the MUSC College of Pharmacy, then transformed it. He was the youngest pharmacy dean in the country when he took the helm in 1965 and was the longest-serving dean when he officially retired in 1993. Even in retirement, the MUSC pharmacy family could count on seeing him every week, dressed in a white button-down shirt with a neatly-knotted tie, spending a little time in the office. He and the infinitely patient Marsha were fixtures at every milestone event.

Bill Golod was so ineluctably connected with the MUSC College of Pharmacy that is almost unthinkable to consider it without him.

But the era has finally come to its end. Dean Emeritus Bill Golod passed away at age 90 on November 10, 2023.

“The fact that his passing at age 90 still feels like a bit of a shock is a testament to his unquenchable vitality,” said Philip Hall, dean of the MUSC College of Pharmacy. “He meant so much to so many of us for so long that losing him is hard to accept. Our thoughts and prayers are with Marsha and the entire Golod family. I hope it is some comfort to know that few in life have had a greater impact on more people.”

Dean Hall, who arrived at MUSC as an assistant professor while Golod was still dean, is the fourth occupant of the office since Golod’s retirement, and the venerable dean emeritus served as a mentor to each successor. He also had a very active role in college life, particularly in development and alumni affairs. Along with fellow dean emeritus Arnold Karig, Golod helped propel to completion the new building campaign that he originally proposed shortly after becoming dean in 1965.

“He continued to be a vibrant part of the college for 30 more years after retiring, including just a few months ago at the dedication of our building,” said Hall. “He had been waiting 50 years for that moment, and I will always be grateful we got to celebrate it with him.”

Dean Emeritus Bill Golod past and present

Golod was both a visionary – during his tenure, the college was the first in the nation to do more than a dozen things – and a pragmatist. When he was named dean, the college had contracted into a small-size, high-quality program that needed to increase enrollment or face potential closing. Golod hopped in his car and drove all over the state, talking to faculty and students and undergraduate institutions throughout the region. He developed a pipeline of applications, enabling the College to grow strategically and create opportunities for innovation.

When Hurricane Hugo devastated Charleston in 1989, Golod rounded up the students who were not able to evacuate and he and Marsha stayed with them at the college. He somehow found more than 20 mattresses and dragged them into a lab on the fourth floor. After the storm passed, he indefatigably led the clean-up and restoration of the college.

Dean Emeritus Bill Golod and Marsha Golod with Golod cutout

He was much more than an accumulation of his deeds. The MUSC pharmacy family is rife with Golod stories, each adding another brick to the legend. He played football for Vince Lombardi. His family escaped from Russian persecution. His Spanish-speaking mother taught New York Puerto Ricans to speak English. He was on a city champion baseball team. His brother was a Hollywood executive. One night in a pharmacy, he got stabbed in the hand and threw the assailant through a window. He formed a short-lived but successful MUSC basketball team. In addition to serving as dean, he ran MUSC Health’s pharmacy services, opening a whole new vein of stories about patients, formularies, and late-night perils.

He was willing to share about the past but it never kept him from being in the present. Even in his late 80s, he had a featured role in most college events, took leadership roles in the Jewish community, stayed informed on current global politics and scientific breakthroughs, and was always interested in the experiences and futures of current pharmacy students.

Dean Emeritus Bill Golod and Kathy Chessman

As the face of MUSC pharmacy for thousands of students, alumni, faculty and staff, donors, colleagues, and others, Golod left an incredible living legacy at the MUSC College of Pharmacy.

Kathy Chessman ’84 ’86, professor and chair of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Outcomes Sciences, first met Golod nearly 40 years ago.

“He was my dean when I was a student and my dean as a first-time faculty member,” she said. “Watching him as he dealt with everything was a huge influence on my own development. It was thanks to him, along with [dean emeritus John Cormier], that I grew up to be the person I am today.”

Toledot Bill Golod.