Change and Permanence

July 12, 2018

On May 12, the 300 members of the ACPHS Class of 2018 experienced one of life's transitions by crossing the stage to receive their diplomas. At this point, they have ceased to be students and have progressed onto their new career opportunities. The commencement ceremony was the culmination of 4-6 years of hard work and academic achievement.

As much as the day was about transition, it was also about continuity. Regardless of their many destinations and career paths, these graduates will be forever linked to the College. Through their ACPHS experience, they now share a common bond with a line of alumni dating back to 1881.

The cycle of academic life continues and in less than two months we will welcome a new class of students. These students will eventually put their individual and collective stamps on the College. Year after year, this progression plays out, marking the constant change that is the nature of academic life.

Throughout this continual cycle of change, there is one enduring feature of the academic landscape - the faculty. They are the permanence and stability of the institution. They bring consistency and knowledge garnered over the years that not only maintains the traditions of the College but also advances us as we move into the challenges of an ever-changing future.

Just two days after graduation, this point was driven home quite powerfully at our Employee Recognition Ceremony. This annual event acknowledges the contributions of faculty and staff of the College for their years of dedication and service.

At this year's recognition ceremony, we celebrated four faculty members with 20+ years of service. As I stood at the podium, I thought about all of the students who have passed through the halls of our College over the past two decades, and how these faculty members have influenced their lives. I playfully referred to them as the "great ones" and challenged their younger peers to become the future "great ones."

The ACPHS experience is special because of faculty members like Dave Clarke, Jeff Voigt, Lee Anna Obos, and Laurie Briceland. Each of these individuals has at different times "gone the extra mile," not only to ensure the quality of the student experience but the quality of the academic program.

Dr. Clarke has been at ACPHS for 20 years. In addition to his role as the Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, he teaches the first-year class in Chemistry which is a foundational course for students in all undergraduate programs at the College. Dave is described by his fellow faculty members as "an exemplary model of professionalism and integrity" and someone who "always has the best interests of the students in mind."

Dr. Voigt has also been at ACPHS for 20 years. He is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences where he teaches Biochemistry and other selected topics in addition to mentoring students in his research lab. One of Jeff's colleagues describes him as "a consummate professional, a true team worker, and a pillar of our department and of our College."

Ms. Obos has been at ACPHS for 25 years. She is an instructor in the six-part Pharmacy Skills Lab sequence which is a key component of the Pharm.D. curriculum. She also serves as the curator of the Throop Pharmacy Museum. For the recognition ceremony, one of Lee Anna's colleagues remarked how "she has touched the lives of so many students" through her teaching and service. Another department member said Lee Anna is "a wonderful example to all for her dedication to students and commitment to their success."

Dr. Briceland has been at ACPHS for 30 years. In her current role as the Associate Dean of Experiential Education and Academic Affairs, she maintains relationships with more than 600 experiential education sites across the country. "Laurie has shown me what it means to be student-centered. She truly wants what is best for the students, from their coursework and co-curricular activities, to rotations and future careers," says one member of her division. Another notes: "She remembers every conversation she has with a student to ensure the best possible rotation experiences for them."

These individuals are representative of a broader community of faculty who are equally dedicated to the institution and to our students.

So as this year's graduates move on to the next phases of their lives, we are secure in the knowledge that the incoming class will benefit from the ongoing commitment and experience of a dedicated faculty.

Greg Dewey, Ph.D., is President of Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

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