Amid social upheaval, ACPHS carries on
Buck's Follies, 1966
The 1960s were a time of turmoil and change throughout the nation, as the United
States increasingly became involved in the war in Vietnam , the Civil Rights movement
heated up and charismatic leaders President John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy and
Martin Luther King, Jr., were assassinated.
In downtown Albany , the '60s brought demonstrations against the war and for Civil
Rights. The decade also brought the demolition of a large tract of property in the
center of Albany for the South Mall, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller's controversial brainchild
built as an administrative center for state government. By the time the large-scale
project was completed, 7,000 people had been displaced and more than 1,500 buildings
had been demolished, including Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences's
first and second homes on Eagle Street.
At ACPHS, the decade was marked by two important events: a new five-year degree
in pharmacy was launched in 1960, and 1967 introduced a new dean, Walter Singer
ACPHS classroom in
the early 1960s
With the Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy now a five-year program, students could
begin at ACPHS or study for the first two years at an accredited College of Arts
and Sciences and transfer in for the "professional years," as long as the curriculum
was approved by the dean. The B.S. in Medical Technology was still a four-year program
that prepared students to take the licensing exam given by the American Society
of Clinical Pathologists. Courses fell into the departments of Pharmacy, Pharmacy
Administration, Pharmacology, Pharmacog-nosy and Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences
and Mathematics, Liberal Arts and Medical Technology. Tuition was raised to $600
a year and, although there were no dorms, students could expect to pay about $1,200
for room and board for the year. Many rented single rooms in the neighborhood, and
the cafeteria, in the capable hands of Margaret Kirkpatrick, was open five days
a week with meals available for $2 a day.
By the end of the decade, tuition had risen to $1,000 a year and many students were
renting their own apartments to save on expenses.
Once the five-year program became fully operative in September 1964, that additional
year of schooling meant an entire extra class of 100-plus students and overcrowding
became a real problem. The Rho Pi Phi fraternity came up with some suggestions to
relieve the congestion, including one-way traffic in the halls and on the stairs,
outdoor furniture outside the cafeteria to handle lunchtime overflow and a more
active Interfraternity Council to alleviate the stresses and strains between competing
With the influx of new students, one controversial subject was violations of the
dress code, as spelled out in Article 18 of the General College Rules. Many students
decried the fact that "dress shirts, jackets and ties are being discarded in favor
of sports shirts and sweaters." Mortar and Pestle came down hard on students for
"leaving dirty coffee cups filled with ashes for Mrs. K. to clean up" and noted
that students were "too lazy to walk 200 feet from the card room" for basketball
tryouts. In general, it seemed that many students in the 1960s felt a relaxing of
the rules and a lack of school spirit.
In spite of the tensions, sports and physical fitness continued to be a big part
of life at ACPHS. In the winter of 1963, two ACPHS students walked from Troy to
New York City in response to President Kennedy's Physical Fitness Campaign. Spurred
on by a very successful advertising campaign, many Americans opted to take the president's
famous 50-mile hike challenge. Kennedy was held in great esteem by many students
at the College, who dedicated the 1965 yearbook to the slain president (there was
no yearbook in 1964 as there was no graduating class that year due to the five-year
requirement). At ACPHS, Chris Kaprielian '63 and Leonard DeVito '67 took the president's
challenge and hiked down to the city over a long weekend, in temperatures that dipped
to 10 below, wearing ski masks and carrying backpacks.
Intramural basketball, 1967
Most students took a more traditional route to fitness, participating in an active
sports program at the College. By 1959-60, the basketball team was in its eighth
consecutive winning season under coach Al White. By the following year, when coach
White had to suddenly leave a game for an emergency appendectomy, the team kept
on winning in his absence - all 12 men scored that night against Berkshire Christian
College . With "the best college record in the area" under co-captains Bob Toomajian
'62 and Howie Rubinger '63, the team seemed unbeatable.
"Husky Skipper," Al White
During the 1964-65 season, the Panthers' second as a member of the newly formed
Northeastern Collegiate Conference, the team broke 29 school records and captured
the conference title, winning White the honor of Coach of the Year.
So it was a huge shock to the student body when the "Husky Skipper," as White was
affectionately known, resigned as coach in 1965 after 13 winning seasons and a 149-72
record. While White remained on as director of athletics and advisor to the Athletic
Commission, the team continued on under Ed Lynch in the 1965-66 season, and, throughout
the rest of the '60s, under coach Willard Rice.
Basketball was not the only winning sport at ACPHS. A new bowling league, with six
teams, was organized by Rich Cognetti '69 and John Palazzoli '64, in the 1959-60
academic year, and, by the following year, was open to all classes. Eventually,
the varsity bowling team at ACPHS went on to win three North- eastern Collegiate
Conference championships in four years during the decade.
during the '60s ...
The varsity golf team, formed in May 1964, captured three straight NCC championships
in 1966-68, and the varsity volleyball team captured the title during the 1967-68
season. Softball, basketball, and tennis continued to enjoy success as well. With
all of the winning teams, an honorary Varsity Club was open to anyone who had played
one full season in a varsity sport and entitled them to wear a snappy club blazer.
Other new activities were added during the decade, beginning with a college band
revived after many years under Richard Daffner '63. The "Rex-men," basically a brass
section with a piano, made its debut at a Christmas party in 1960 and played at
dances and at basketball games during halftime. With bright red music stands emblazoned
with the pharmacy emblem, they cut a fine figure as they launched into the likes
of "Swingin' Shepherd Blues" and "When the Saints Go Marching In." The Glee Club
still had about 40 members and entertained at concerts, as well as at the annual
Homecoming Weekend. This jam-packed event featured a party on Friday night as well
as an alumni basketball game, and culminated with a dance and the crowning of the
Homecoming queen, a cheerleader chosen by the Athletic Commission.
and the Glee Club was a
fixture at holiday parties
The student branch of the American Pharmacists Association had a very large membership
with 270 active ACPHS members at its height. One of the highpoints of the decade
came in May 1965 when two members of the chapter were in attendance as Vice President
Hubert Humphrey, R.Ph., the world's most famous pharmacist at the time, addressed
the APhA convention in Detroit .
In 1960, a Wives Auxiliary of the student branch of APhA was organized at the suggestion
of Hilda O'Brien '21, the dean's wife. With Priscilla Steed, wife of Gerald Steed
'61, as president, "the wives" functioned primarily as a social group, with a goal
of familiarizing themselves with their husbands' work and the field of pharmacy
in general. Many hours were spent in "wifely chatter" at events such as a "gala
Christmas party at the O'Brien's" and bake sales, "white elephant sales," raffles
and other money-making schemes. The stated purpose of the club was "giving hubby
a night out and treating him [while] raising money for a gift or scholarship to
Delta Theta formed in 1961
By January 1961, another new club for young women was formed at ACPHS with the debut
of the Alpha Alpha Chapter of Alpha Delta Theta, a professional sorority for college
women studying medical technology. The group, founded under the leadership of Wilma
Rose as president and the guidance of Miss Mountain , chief bacteriologist at Bender
Lab, quickly became an active member of the flourishing Interfraternity Council.
All of the frats and both sororities took part in events sponsored by the Interfraternity
Council, including picnics at Thacher Park, tennis matches and baseball games, with
the big event of the year the Homecoming Weekend sponsored by the IFC and Athletic
1965 campus queen
But each of the fraternal organizations sponsored their own annual events as well.
More and more, they became involved in the community, collecting Christmas toys
and food for the needy and equipping a pharmacy on the S.S. Hope, a hospital ship
that sailed to Indonesia and South Vietnam in 1960. Frats and sororities also were
involved in assisting the College itself, including fundraising activities that
benefited scholarships. At the beginning of the decade, the " Ropes" even presented
ACPHS with a 50-star flag to commemorate the addition of Hawaii to the United States
By the early '60s, Kappa Psi was organizing an Open House at the College to interest
prospective students in the new five-year Pharmacy program and demonstrate cutting-edge
equipment such as ACPHS's new MiniVac computer, an early computer that went on the
market in 1961.
But, as always, there was a light side to the College as well.
Phi Delta Chi sponsored its first twist party in the fall of 1962, capitalizing
on the dance craze sweeping the country. The dance was first popularized by Chubby
Checker in 1960 when his song, "The Twist," reached number one for the first time.
By the time of the PDC party, the tune had set a record by resurfacing as a number
one hit again. At ACPHS, t wist parties were a roaring success and featured groups
like the Orkets and Larry Jackson's Swinging Knights.
Soon, even the twist was becoming a bit old hat and, by 1964, a group of fourth-year
students, "Pharmacy's answer to the Beatles," was playing at favorite ACPHS haunts
such as the Petit Paris and Ralph's Tavern. By 1966, "Pharmacy's own Rolling Stones,"
Les Figarsky and George Milne, had taken over the musical reins.
Some events concentrated more on the theme than the music, capitalizing on popular
culture of the times. Kappa Psi's Sweetheart Weekend at the Crooked Lake House featured
"machine gun-toting Clydes and long-skirted Bonnies" after the hugely popular film
debut of Bonnie and Clyde in 1967.
One of the lighter moments of the decade was the appearance of an eight-foot tall
chicken, complete with trailer, at ACPHS during Kappa Psi pledge week in 1965.
According to Mortar and Pestle , pledges had to "do a bit of chicken riding during
second seminar." Things got out of hand when the pledges and some of the brothers
decided to take the chicken downtown at 11:30 p.m. "where they encountered four
cop cars and a couple of motorcycles." After an explanation from the leader of the
brigade, the fraternity and the chicken parted company. Luckily for the frat, "there
was no trouble, as it was all done in fun."
Outside of ACPHS, students embraced the full spectrum of the 1960s.
Early in the decade, many students were veterans of the Korean war with young families.
They played pinochle and ping pong in the men's smoker and showed off their cars
in the College parking lot. They listened to jazz on their "hi-fis" and went to
see the Smothers Brothers perform when they played at Siena College in 1962. And
the preferred reading material for the "Atomic Age Generation" was Frannie and Zooey
by J.D. Salinger and Catch 22 by Joseph Heller.
By 1965, Mortar and Pestle reported that ACPHS "folk fans poured in with blankets
and bottles of chianti" to see Bob Dylan perform at the Troy Armory. Within three
years students were hanging out at the Eighth Step Coffee House on Willett and State
streets to hear folk music, poetry and plays on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.
On the more serious side of things, both the Student Christian Association and the
Newman Club started off the '60s with very large memberships. The Newman Club, for
Catholic students, sponsored well-attended folk masses, though some students felt
they might be "hootenanny with communion," a reference to a popular 1963 TV show
featuring folk musicians who performed on college campuses.
Both clubs discussed topics such as religion in folk music and jazz, the relationship
of Hinduism to Christianity, chastity versus birth control and the peace movement,
which was coming to the forefront as the war in Vietnam continued to heat up.
In early 1965, the United States had begun air raids on North Vietnam and on Communist-controlled
areas in the south and by 1966 there were 190,000 U.S. troops in South Vietnam .
By 1969, that number had swelled to nearly 550,000 and the U.S was torn by a war
that many young people did not support.
At ACPHS, students reacted to the war in different ways. In November 1965, senior
William Buck '66 addressed a seminar group at the College and urged support of the
war in Vietnam , circulating a petition that stated:
"We, the undersigned students of ACPHS, not condoning war as an ordinary course
of events . do in this extraordinary situation, give our support to the President
of the United States and our fighting men in their effort in South Vietnam . God
bless them all."
Buck and Timothy Garrity '66 received coverage in the local news media when they
both flew down to Washington , D.C. to present the petition.
By March 1966, the Alpha Delta Theta sorority was involved in Operation Vietnam,
sending novels to G.I.s in an effort co-sponsored by the Albany Times Union and
Fort Orange Radio Distributing Company. The sorority collected a total of 288 books,
which were shipped off with letters from the sorority members.
That same year, Dean O'Brien's last, he thanked the ACPHS students going into the
service "to maintain the freedom and integrity of this country."
As Dean O'Brien stepped down after 47 years as a member of the faculty and administration,
one of ACPHS's own came in to fill the gap.
Walter Singer, a 1948 graduate who had returned to the College in 1966 as associate
dean and professor of pharmacy, became the new dean upon Dr. O'Brien's retirement.
Dean Singer previously had taught at ACPHS until 1954, when he went to University
of California at San Francisco for his Ph.D. in pharmaceutical chemistry. He eventually
rose to the position of assistant dean at UCSF before his return to his alma mater.
By the following fall, under Dean's Singer's watch, ACPHS and Albany Medical College
were touting their new joint toxicology program, one of the only of its kind in
the country, where research was carried out under the supervision of scientists
at AMC's Institute of Experimental Pathology .
The College also entered the computer age with a $3,000 grant from the Smith, Kline
and French Foundation to purchase a "calculator with memory blanks" and "introduce
a statistical approach to the handling of data."
There were other signs that the College was entering a new era.
In 1966, the fifth annual Continuing Education program, sponsored by the Alumni
Association, featured sessions on hallucinogenic drugs and anti-fertility agents.
An orientation program was instituted for freshmen, ACPHS joined with other colleges
to form the Hudson-Mohawk Association of Colleges and Universities, and, for the
first time, dormitory space became available. Shared with students from Albany Med
and Albany Law School , the dorm featured quads for $550 a year for a double. A
real drawback was the single kitchen shared by eight floors, forcing many students
to resort to hotplates.
Against the turbulent background of the late '60s - anti-war protests, the women's
movement, the sexual revolution and Robert Kennedy's assassination - the Alembic
Pharmakon of 1969 was dedicated to peace among men. ACPHS entered its next decade
with a cautiously hopeful outlook as Dean Singer urged students to use their "intellectual
power and numerical strength to move your profession in the direction in which you
want it to go."