Comings and Goings

June 14, 2017

On the surface, Commencement and Reunion Weekend are very different events that celebrate very different things. Separated by just three weeks, these two events do, however, vividly demonstrate the progression of our students along their life paths. To my mind, they also highlight a continuity from generation to generation. 

While the world in 2017 is very different from the one that greeted the Class of 1997 and certainly the Class of 1967, our most recent graduates and our older alumni share more in common than one might think.

Starting with the 10th annual Sorensen-Zeolla Memorial Golf Tournament on Friday morning and ending with the Francis J. O'Brien Society luncheon at my home on Sunday, Reunion Weekend was jam-packed with events and activities. Alumni from all over the country returned to campus to reminisce, share stories, and honor members of their classes and the ACPHS community.

Our most recent graduates and our older alumni share more in common than one might think.

Members of the Class of '65 returned to dedicate a memorial wall outside the Pharmacy Practice Lab that recognizes ACPHS faculty, staff, and administrators who influenced them and their generation of students. I encourage you to take a look when you have a chance.

The themes of gratitude and appreciation were heard often throughout the weekend. The second floor lecture hall in the Gozzo Student Center (SC 202) was dedicated in the name of Melvyn Mitteldorf Masters '55. In his remarks, Mel acknowledged the role that mentors at ACPHS had in shaping his career path, adding that it was time for him "to give back to the College."

Other events from Reunion Weekend included presentations by graduates of the B.S. program in Pharmaceutical Sciences (whose first class of students graduated ten years ago) and the dedication of a plaque in the Student Center in memory of former faculty member Mario Zeolla ' 97.

I especially enjoyed the multi-generational Casino Night on Saturday because nearly everyone in town for the weekend was in attendance. The event allowed many opportunities for alumni from across the years to catch up with (or, in some cases, meet) other ACPHS graduates and generally have a good time.

As I participated in the various Reunion activities, I could not help but think back to our May 13 Commencement ceremony. I was struck by the similarities between our newest alumni and those who had returned for their Reunion.

Our alumni are advancing human health in many different ways and will no doubt expand their contributions in the years to come.

Our newer and older alumni are quantitative problem solvers who are used to tackling complicated issues. In addition to their similar skill sets, they share many of the same values and sensibilities. These are qualities that have endured over generations such as a strong work ethic, a spirit of generosity, and a commitment to service. As I told the Class of 1967, I have no doubt they would enjoy the company of this year's graduates and vice versa.

But more than any of these traits, both groups share the quality of compassion. Their chosen career paths provide them with avenues to give back to their communities. They are advancing human health in many different ways and will no doubt expand their contributions in the years to come. In the inspiring words of Commencement speaker Dr. Howard Zucker, "The imaginative spirit does not even capture the potential of what can be."

As the 294 students crossed the stage in May to receive their diplomas, they completed an arc that took them from students to professionals. In the process, they joined the distinguished ranks of ACPHS alumni.

The ACPHS experience is the tie that now binds these graduates together with previous classes while also enabling a future of endless possibilities. ACPHS will forever be the place where they actualized their abilities, saw the path forward, and received the support they needed to succeed. That is one thing that has not changed through the years.

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

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