Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences


137th ACPHS Commencement Exercises
Saturday, May 13, 2017

Saratoga Performing Arts Center
108 Avenue of the Pines
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

11:30 am - Venue Opens
1:00 pm - Ceremony Begins
3:30 pm - Estimated End Time of Ceremony

* A reception for students, families, and friends will be held immediately following the graduation ceremony on the SPAC grounds
Speaker: Dr. Howard A. Zucker
Commissioner of Health for New York State Howard A. Zucker, M.D., J.D., is this year's commencement speaker (and an honorary degree recipient). Dr. Zucker oversees an agency that seeks to promote and protect the health of all New Yorkers. He is board-certified in pediatrics, anesthesiology, pediatric cardiology, and pediatric critical care and trained at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and Boston Children's Hospital.

Before coming to the state Department of Health, Dr. Zucker was a pediatric anesthesiologist at Montefiore in Bronx, NY. Dr. Zucker has also run the pediatric intensive care unit at New York Presbyterian Hospital. He has held academic appointments at Yale, Columbia, Cornell, and Albert Einstein medical schools and served on the clinical faculty at the National Institutes of Health.

In addition, Dr. Zucker served as a White House fellow, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Health at the U.S. Health and Human Services, as Assistant Director-General of the World Health Organization, and a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School.
Gus Birkhead
Honorary Degree Recipient: Dr. Gus Birkhead

For 27 years, Gus Birkhead, M.D., M.P.H., was one of the leading public health voices at the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH).

At various times throughout his career, he oversaw the activities of the NYSDOH's four public health centers and two public health offices: the AIDS Institute, Center for Community Health, Center for Environmental Health, Wadsworth Laboratories, Office of Public Health Practice, and the Health Emergency Preparedness Program.

Despite retiring from NYSDOH as Deputy Commissioner in 2015, Dr. Birkhead remains active in the field, serving as Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University at Albany School of Public Health, where he has been on faculty since 1988. He is also a part-time Medical Officer working for the National Vaccine Program Office at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Michael Botticelli
Honorary Degree Recipient: Michael Botticelli

Michael Botticelli is the Executive Director of the Grayken Center for Addiction Medicine at Boston Medical Center. He previously worked for four years in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) under President Obama.

He served as Deputy Director of ONDCP for two years followed by two years as the Office’s Director. During his time with the White House, he helped lead the Administration’s drug policy efforts and advance historic drug policy reforms and innovations in prevention, criminal justice, treatment, and recovery.

Prior to joining ONDCP, he served as Director of the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Born in Waterford, NY, Mr. Botticelli holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Siena College and a Master of Education degree from St. Lawrence University.

Frequently Asked Questions

What time should I arrive?

Graduates are expected to arrive at SPAC by 11:30 a.m. Guests will also be able to enter SPAC at 11:30 a.m.

Where should I go when I arrive at SPAC?

Administration, faculty and staff should report in full regalia to the Small Rehearsal Room. Graduates should report in full regalia to the Large Rehearsal Room.

What are the ticket policy and seating arrangements?

There are no tickets distributed for graduation. Seating is general admission (first come, first served). SPAC will be open at 11:30 a.m.

What is my (student's) graduation status?

If you have any questions regarding graduation standing, please contact Jeff Dufour, Registrar, by email at

Are there special services and accommodations available for those with a physical impairment?

Saratoga Performing Arts Center facilities meet federal accessibility guidelines for individuals with disabilities. Please direct requests and questions to Patty Tompkins, ACPHS Events Manager, at (518) 694-7123 or

Courtesy cart service is available, but guests requesting this service should arrive no later than 30 minutes before the ceremony begins. Because of the number of people requiring transportation, the only riders should be those who truly need the service. Please note that courtesy carts do not go into the parking lots. Guests using the courtesy cart service are asked to be patient as it takes time to transport all of the guests to their seats.

What is the length of the graduation ceremony?

Commencement will run approximately 2 ½ hours.

What is the dress code for students?

Graduates are expected to be in full regalia for Commencement. 

How do I order my cap and gown (regalia)?

Caps and gowns are ordered through the bookstore. E-mails with additional information will be sent to students as the date nears.

What about photographs?

Families are free to take photographs or record the ceremony. A professional photographer will also be on hand during the graduation ceremony. Professional photography will be made available after the ceremony via a link to the ACPHS website or an ACPHS social media platform.

Is there a reception following the ceremony?

Yes, a reception will take place on the grounds at SPAC immediately following the conclusion of the graduation ceremony. All graduates and guests are invited to attend.

What are some lodging options near the venue?

Click the following link for a list of places you may stay in around Saratoga.

Stay Connected!

ACPHS is proud to welcome the Class of 2017 into its alumni community. If you have any questions regarding alumni activities, benefits, events, opportunities and ways to stay connected and support ACPHS, visit the alumni section of our website OR email