A decade of change, advances
Alembic Pharmakon staff, circa 1974
The 1970s were a time of radical change in the country, and those changes were mirrored
at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. The women's liberation movement,
the computer age, social responsibility, the war against drugs and a tough job market
all had far-reaching implications for the College during the decade.
Walter Singer '48, Ph.D., had been at the helm of the College for three years, and
was ably assisted by Assistant Dean Russell Denegar '43. The College still had only
two programs of study going into the decade: the five-year B.S. in Pharmacy and
the four-year B.S. in Medical Technology, in which the students spent their fourth
year at St. Peter's Hospital School of Medical Technology, rather than at Bender
Lab as in the past. Students paid around $1,400 for room and board and continued
to reside in the surrounding neighborhoods in the absence of a dormitory.
The second and third years of the Medical Technology curriculum had been revised
in the beginning of the 1970s. By the 1974-75 academic year, Dean Singer announced
a radical change in the curriculum for pharmacy students as well. That fall, the
fifth year for the B.S in Pharmacy was divided into three segments, including 24
weeks of didactic instruction at ACPHS with a block of 13 weeks of clinical practice
(structured externship) at community pharmacies and health care institutions. The
assignment of the 90 professional practice sites was coordinated Assistant Dean
Albert M. White.
ACPHS drug abuse display
Colonie Center, 1970
These curricular changes, especially the practical experience, were designed to
give graduates a leg up in finding employment. With a record 566 students registered
that fall and a flagging job market for pharmacists, some graduates found it increasingly
difficult to find a position. Consequently, a job placement office was set up at
the College in 1975. Interview Days, which had been started in 1968, also helped
by introducing students to a plethora of pharmaceutical companies from throughout
By 1978, a new Master's degree in Health Systems Management, in combination with
the B.S. in Pharmacy, was added to the curriculum under the guidance of faculty
member Joseph Lapetina, allowing students another career pathway.
1973 class picnic
Professor Lapetina also was put in charge of another relatively new component of
life at ACPHS when he was named director of computer services. Computer facilities
at the College in those days consisted of a Digital Equipment Corp. PDP 11/40, a
time-sharing system that supported 16 terminals, either hard-wired or remote, and
a Plato IV terminal. This computer-based teaching system, which was connected to
the University of Illinois , provided a means for individual student tutoring through
the use of both text and graphics.
In another new direction, ACPHS reached out to graduates with a nascent Continuing
Education program when Ron McLean '51 and Kenneth Griswold '21, former trustee,
were named to head up the Division of Extension Services in 1977. The program kicked
off with a "Seminar of the Eye," as the first offering available to ACPHS alumni.
The '70s also brought radical change to the dress code at ACPHS. Beginning in 1970,
the Student Council revised the rules to allow for more liberalized dress for classes
and enforced the new code from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
students in 1975
Sport coats and ties still were recommended for men, but not required. However,
sweat shirts, sweaters without shirts and t-shirts were banned, as were sandals
or sneakers. Blue jeans, providing they were clean and not ripped, were only the
province of the male members of the student body, who still were required to wear
lab coats for certain classes. Female students were allowed "slacks and culottes,"
though dresses were preferred. Hot pants, shorts, jeans, sweat shirts and t-shirts
were prohibited .
President Nixon's "War Against Drugs," which had been launched in 1971, also came
to the forefront during the decade and service activities at ACPHS reflected the
prominence of the theme.
That year, the College sponsored an exhibit on the "Future of Pharmacy in the '70s"
at Colonie Center , the first enclosed mall in the Capital Region. The most popular
of the eight displays centered around the reactions of lab rats to depressants and
stimulants. Drug abuse was a consistent theme of the ACPHS displays at the mall
during National Pharmacy Week throughout the decade. In addition, Rho Pi Phi presented
a drug abuse program to high school students in conjunction with New York State
Narcotic Addiction Control Commission.
One hallmark of the '70s that was not reflected at ACPHS was the decline in the
fraternity-sorority system, mirroring a national trend. The "restrictive and establishment-oriented
fraternity membership has faded," said an article in Mortar and Pestle. At ACPHS,
fraternities were both social and professional in nature and "filled the void" in
terms of a social life "handicapped by the small size of the campus."
Delta Chi pledges
at Ralph's, 1971
Though the decade started on a conservative note in terms of activities - with Lambda
Kappa Sigma sponsoring Mother-Daughter banquets and freshmen teas for incoming female
students - by the end of the '70s, for the first time it ACPHS's history, the ratio
of men to women was roughly equal and activities at the school were reflective of
The Interfraternity and Sorority Council, with women playing an active part, sponsored
school picnics, mixers and intramural sports programs. There were three professional
fraternities on campus, Kappa Psi, Phi Delta Chi and the now co-ed "Ropes" in Rho
Pi Phi, plus the Lambda Kappa Sigma sorority. The ACPHS chapter of Alpha Delta Theta,
a professional sorority for women in the field of medical technology, was disbanded
after the 1972-73 academic year.
All of the fraternal organizations were very active, both professionally and socially.
Kappa Psi published a Student Directory and sponsored the annual Sweetheart Weekend.
Phi Delta Chi had an active student recruitment program for incoming freshmen, in
addition to social events such as the Winter Interlude. Rho Pi Phi set up Poison
Prevention Week activities at Colonie Center and sponsored a Campus King and Queen
Weekend. Lambda Kappa Sigma raised money for the S.S. Hope, a hospital ship, in
addition to its active social calendar.
v. Nicolais '74 in 1973
In 1976, a new pharmacy honor society, Rho Chi, open to both men and women, was
established when the Gamma Gamma Chapter was started at ACPHS. The new organization,
which recognized scholastic achievement, kicked off with an installation dinner
at Jack's Oyster House downtown.
ACPHS also had student chapters of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA),
Pharmaceutical Society of the State of New York (PSSNY), Albany County Pharmaceutical
Society, Northeastern New York Society of Hospital Pharmacists and American Chemical
Society. PSSNY and APhA even had a Women's Auxiliary that provided loans for fourth-
and fifth-year women. The student APhA chapter at ACPHS was in the national limelight
when Jack V. Nicolais Jr. '74 was elected national president of the organization
In addition to pharmacy-related organizations, ACPHS boasted the Mortar and Pestle
and Alembic Pharmakon , a Music Ensemble, Film Club, Photography Club, Outing Club,
Ski Club and the literary journal Panther Tales . There also was a Student Video
Network, which produced telecasts written, produced, directed and acted by students,
and the Panther Players, a Drama Club that performed popular plays such as "Spoon
River Anthology" and "Harvey."
Park Free Clinic
Both the new Key Club and Circle K involved students in myriad community service
projects such as a Dance Marathon to benefit American Cancer Society. The Newman
Club and the Student Christian Association combined during the decade to form the
Interfaith Association, which also was involved in community volunteer work.
Students throughout the College were involved in staffing the Washington Park Free
Medical Clinic on Hamilton Street , which in those days even received funding from
the ACPHS student budget. Although they could not dispense, students assisted in
the ordering of pharma- ceuticals and prepared them for patients.
ACPHS still participated in intercollegiate sports in the Northeastern Collegiate
Conference and had basketball, soccer, cross country, tennis, softball and bowling
teams for men. Women could compete in intercollegiate basketball, volleyball, softball
and bowling, and there were intramural sports and Union College varsity sports available
for both sexes.
soccer team, 1974
The varsity golf and bowling teams were especially successful during the decade
and brought home NCC championships. And the NCC All Sports trophy, commemorating
the highest total points for athletic competition, went to ACPHS a few times during
Students also could participate in more low-key competitions in between classes.
In 1970, in answer to requests by many of the students, a new Student Union was
created when a room in the 1927 building was emptied of lockers and re-designed
for recreational use. Ping pong, cards, pool and Yahtzee, a game popularized by
Milton-Bradley in 1973, were the most popular activities. Much to the dismay of
the administration, the room was so poorly treated that the Student Union had to
be closed for an entire week to allow Margaret Kirkpatrick, who had retired as cafeteria
manager but remained on the facilities staff, to clean up.
Eventually, the room was opened at night and by 1979, beer and wine were available
through an experimental program worked out with John's Tavern.
Queen Paulette Sivak
There was also a Coffee House in the cafeteria two nights a week where students
could indulge in a folkier atmosphere, listening to Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan
while quoting Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kahlil Gilbran, Herman Hesse and, that perennial
'70s favorite, Alice in Wonderland. Other on-campus activities included comedy skits
by the second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-year students, who acted out the roles
of Dean Singer and their favorite professors.
Homecoming/Parents Weekend was moved from the fall and the first annual winter sports
carnival with snow sculpture, basketball games, reception and brunch was held in
ACPHS students kept an active social schedule and each year was marked by an endless
cycle of occasions for celebration. The Junior Prom, the end-of year clambake at
Thacher Park and the Halfway Party for third-year students, "a celebration of 2½
years of very hard work and the beginning of 2½ years of even harder work" were
all a much-anticipated part of the schedule.
And, of course, there were toga parties, which skyrocketed in popularity with the
1978 release of National Lampoon's Animal House , starring Saturday Night Live veteran
John Belushi. The television show also struck a chord with students at ACPHS, and
throughout the nation, as evidenced by the number of "Conehead" clones at the annual
ACPHS Halloween party.
Outside of school, there was always Ralph's, the "ACPHS Annex" on the corner of
New Scotland and Madison avenues that was the "home of the ACPHS banner" for many
years. With its flashing pinball machine, and against an endless background of "Mack
the Knife" on the jukebox, the tavern functioned as a "home-away-from-home" for
many students during their time at the College.
There were always lots of informal parties at the many apartments in the surrounding
neighborhood when students could chill listening to early '70s favorites such as
James Taylor, POCO, Who's Next , and the Rolling Stones' Sticky Fingers, right up
to the disco years of Saturday Night Fever , the wildly popular movie soundtrack
released in 1977. Students also took full advantage of the rest of their neighborhood,
hanging out at the brand new McDonald's on Hackett and Holland avenues or the Elbo
Room on Delaware , dining at the U.N. Diner, gathering by the Moses fountain in
Washington Park or at the newly dedicated Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza
In spite of it all, there were repeated articles in Mortar and Pestle about student
apathy, a trend that was reflected in colleges all over the country. By the end
of the '70s , with enrollments dipping once again, also reflective of the nation
at large, ACPHS got ready to face more tough challenges as it entered the '80s.