On Saturday, September 9, 2023, students, faculty, staff, alumni, distinguished guests and members of the community gathered at the Albany Capital Center to celebrate the inauguration of President Toyin Tofade, MS, PharmD, BCPS, CPCC, FFIP as the 10th president of Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. The ceremony reflected her commitment to leadership, service and vision.
"There are so many ways to achieve our goals. If the idea of serving a higher purpose appeals to you, I invite you to join me on this journey. Together we’ll work to solve problems that change the world."
Ladies and gentlemen, esteemed faculty, dedicated staff, proud alumni, devoted Board of Trustees and, most importantly, the exceptional students at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences:
I welcome you all to this momentous occasion in the 142-year history of our beloved institution, as we gather to inaugurate a new era of excellence and progress.
I would like to thank the special dignitaries who join us today:
The clergy and jubilee leadership in North America represented by the assistant general overseers present here.
It is also gratifying to have my family with me — my husband and sons, brother in-law and family who drove all the way from Florida, my sister from Canada and other members of our family, friends and church family from all around the world watching us from afar. It is a blessing that you are in my life, and I give all glory to God for making today possible.
Furthermore, I am delighted to see my academic colleagues, including representatives of area colleges and universities and also from institutions I have been affiliated with throughout my career, including:
- ACPHS President Emeriti, Dr. James J. Gozzo
- Dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, Howard University, Phylicia Rashad
- Dean and Professor of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Institute of Public Health, Florida A&M University, Dr. Johnnie Early II
- Retired CEO, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, Dr. Lucinda Maine
- From Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Dean of Nursing Dr. Adejoke Bolanle Ayoola
- President of SUNY Cobleskill, Dr. Marion Terenzio
- President of College of St. Rose, Marcia White
- President of Albany Law School, Cinnamon Carlarne
- President of Russell Sage College, Dr. Christopher Ames President of Union College, Dr. David Harris
- President of Maria College, Dr. Lynn Ortale
- Hematologist – Dr. Toyosi Onwuemene – Duke Hematology Oncology
- Program Director of Endocrinology at the University of Iowa, Dr. Ayotunde Dokun
- Gastroenterologist at UNC affiliate Wake Medical Center, Dr. Adeyemi Lawal
- Cancer Researcher at Eshelman School of Pharmacy at UNC, Dr. Edikan Archibong Ogunnaike
- Dean of Howard University’s School of Pharmacy, Dr. Ranti Akiyode
- Ambassador Lot Peter Egopija, Consul General, Consulate General of Nigeria in New York
I am also honored that the president of the Albany Black Chamber of Commerce, Deshanna Wiggins, is here.
Lastly, I would like to thank the entire faculty, staff and students, who make ACPHS my home away from home. Thank you for being here today and for all you do every day to make ACPHS great. Thank you so much!
Today, I stand before you, not as an individual, but as a representative of a community that has chosen to place its trust in me. It is a profound honor and privilege to serve as the 10th president of this esteemed institution. As the first Black female president of this College, I am acutely aware of the historic significance of this moment and indeed of this time in our history as educators, Americans and global citizens. I stand here today, not as a symbol of individual achievement, but as a testament to the progress and determination of all those who came before me, including the nine previous presidents and deans of this College, whose shoulders I stand upon.
Our College is infused with a rich history and legacy. From its inception, it has been a beacon of leadership and service in the field of pharmacy — and then later in health sciences. We have programs in cytotechnology, microbiology, clinical lab sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, public health, pre-physician assistant, pre-med, biomanufacturing and bioprocessing. We have articulation agreements with Albany Law School for a B.S./J.D. program, University at Albany for a program leading to a master’s in public health, and with Hudson Valley Community College for a pipeline program into biomanufacturing. And there are more in the works.
Today, I express my deepest gratitude to all those who have contributed to the richness of this institution—the visionaries, the trailblazers, the educators and the learners.
Together, you have built a vibrant campus where smart and hardworking faculty and staff work tirelessly to educate the next generation of leaders, equipping them to improve the health of our society. That is our mission, and we live it every day: yes, we educate the next generation of leaders to improve the health of our society.
Indeed, as we look around, we see evidence of our mission coming to life. Our alumni are leading professional organizations, serving as deans of other pharmacy schools, and making an indelible mark on the healthcare landscape. For example, in 2023 alone, we have three major pharmacy organizations with ACPHS alumni serving as president or president-elect and two pharmacy schools with ACPHS alumni currently serving as dean. This is a testament to the quality education and values instilled in them during their time at ACPHS. It is why we are consistently highly ranked for return on investment — number 1 in the state and number 2 in the nation according to data from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.
But today is not just about celebrating our past achievements; it is about charting a bold course for our future. In December of 2022, our College community embarked on a new strategic planning process with the identification of a new vision statement: ACPHS strives to be a global leader in preparing students for transformative health careers to solve problems that change the world.
Ladies, gentlemen, friends and colleagues, we are committed to setting a strategic direction for the College based on data and evidence. In the coming weeks, the steering committee, led by Dean Anuja Ghorpade, will unveil a new strategic plan. This roadmap will guide us into the future, and is built on five key pillars:
- Academic excellence: We will continue to raise the bar for academic rigor and innovation. As we build upon the strong academic programs, we currently offer in life sciences, allied health sciences and pharmacy, we need to explore ways to engage the younger generation in contemporary ways of learning, which could include tools such as augmented reality, data science and gaming modalities to contemporize learning, and to make learning fun for a new generation of students.
- Quality student experiences: We are dedicated to providing our students with the best possible educational journey and experiences.
- People and culture: We will foster a culture of excellence, inclusivity, superlative customer service, respect and collaboration among our diverse community.
- Engaging with communities: We will strengthen our ties with our communities — geographic and ideological, the Capital Region and all of higher education, and relevant affiliate businesses or institutions, locally, nationally and globally. We will do that because we recognize the importance of service beyond our campus.
- Fiscal health and sustainability: We will ensure the long-term sustainability of our College, allowing us to thrive and grow by developing an entrepreneurial and growth mindset.
As we embark on this journey, we must embrace a growth mindset. This may not strike all of you as the right time for that, given what is not too optimistically referred to as the “enrollment cliff” — the national decline in the college-age population. Yet institutions of higher education will continue to thrive if they build on their strengths and adapt to new ways of learning in the 21st century.
We must grow our campus here in Albany, but also throughout the country and the world with the online capabilities we mastered so well during the COVID pandemic and indeed, before that, as we brought pharmacy students together virtually on our Albany and Vermont campuses. We must move into these new realms while maintaining what has made us distinctive and valuable — our close-knit community, our genuine concern and support for each other, the relationships that keep alumni close and connected for a lifetime.
We must learn from the eagle. Just as an eagle does not seek to escape the storm but uses it to rise higher, we too shall face challenges head-on, using them as opportunities for growth and transformation. We will spread our mighty wings of knowledge and leadership, rising on the winds of change and innovation. I am committed to seeing us soar. To do this, we must:
- S -- set measurable goals,
- O -- observe and learn from our past and our current surroundings to imagine our projected future,
- A -- act promptly on opportunities and plans, and
- R -- repeat the process, celebrating each accomplishment together.
Harriet Tubman said -- and I quote -- “You have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” This requires a team of leaders who are brave, courageous and willing to learn to lead and serve. Leaders must be change agents: open to innovative, out-of-the-box ideas capable of leveraging the College’s strengths, expertise, and history to create a culture of collaboration, service, excellence, student centeredness and leadership.
The impact of our leaders’ actions will ultimately have a significant impact upon our current and future campus community. To achieve our goals, we must create breakthrough moments:
- Breakthrough moments in research will inspire inquiry, solve problems and create solutions for a hurting world.
- Breakthrough moments in scholarship will invite leaders to transform their individual practices, teaching, learning and mindset and will inspire the habit to share their discoveries.
- Breakthrough moments in leadership will underscore the value of one and the impact on many. Leaders will exemplify courage through their actions.
- Breakthrough moments in learning in which we discover a solution that could transform the way we think, practice or behave in the future.
- Breakthrough moments in service where we go where no one has gone, impact lives, communities and people. Perhaps change a life, a home, a community and hopefully inspire greatness in young minds and the minds of others around us.
There are so many ways to achieve our goals. If the idea of serving a higher purpose appeals to you, I invite you to join me on this journey. Together we’ll work to solve problems that change the world.
As we embark on this growth journey, I want to emphasize that our success will not solely be about me as your president. It is about all of us—a community of dedicated individuals committed to leadership, service and the betterment of society. We must strive for intentional collaboration that benefits ACPHS as well as the community around us. We already see those connections in so many programs of the College: In our student-operated pharmacies, which provide medicines to residents of underserved areas even as they offer opportunities for our students to learn to be professionals. In our public health Collaboratory, which provides health education and resources in Albany’s South End. In our Stack Family Center for Biopharmaceutical Education and Training where we seek to open doors to students who do not yet know they are capable of attaining positions in an emerging area of scientific discovery. And in our new fellowship programs, which join forces with industry and regulatory agencies to prepare students for career paths that are still evolving.
I believe our entire community is eager to SOAR as we address each pillar, each objective, each goal, one step at a time. We have already begun conversations with key stakeholders locally, nationally and around the world, and I look forward to updating you on our progress in the next presidential priorities reports posted to our website.
As we do this work, we must continue to assemble key stakeholders around issues like health care delivery; access to and equity in health care, the health professions and life sciences education; and the establishment of biopharma in the Capital Region. All of you here with me today in person and virtually, know that we stand ready to join forces in ways that will ensure this campus and the community continue to rise high. Together, we will soar like eagles, reaching new heights of excellence, and leave an enduring legacy for generations to come to our region, in the nation and in the world.
As I close, I leave you with another quote- This time from Steve Jobs. “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
Thank you for your trust, your dedication, your partnership and your unwavering commitment to Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.
Is anyone here ready to change the world? Together, we will continue to make history.
Thank you so much for your time and attention. It is my honor to serve you as president.
We missed those far and wide who were unable to join us in person for the Inauguration ceremony. However, many sent personal video messages to President Tofade extending their best wishes.
Fireside Chat: Leadership and Service
The theme of President Tofade’s inauguration was leadership and service, which are two important tenets of her career. We welcomed community leaders, ACPHS students, faculty, staff and alumni for a fireside chat focused on leadership, exploring topics such as what makes a leader, how leadership and service have played a role in career success, and how to inspire others through leadership.
The discussion was held on Friday, September 8 in the Rite Aid Lounge of the Gozzo Student Center located in the heart of the ACPHS Campus.
Our esteemed guests included business, community, higher ed and health care leaders. The discussion was moderated by ACPHS' Student Government Association President, Dominick Lomonaco.
- Lucinda Maine, PhD, RPh, Retired Executive Vice President and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy
- Dennis McKenna MD, President and CEO of Albany Med Health System
- Cinnamon Piñon Carlarne JD, BCL, President and Dean, Albany Law School
- Walter Thorne, Market President and Publisher, Albany Business Journal
President's Circle Fund (I love ACPHS)
ACPHS is in the process of developing a new 2024-2029 Strategic Plan to build on the progress of our current strategic plan. Together we have identified five pillars to focus our future efforts based on intentional underpinnings of reputation and diversity, equity and inclusion, including:
1. Academic excellence
2. Quality student experiences
3. People and culture
4. Engaging with communities
5. Fiscal health and sustainability
We will be nimble and pivot as professions and higher education evolve. We anticipate that the new plan will be launched January 2024.
Please visit the 2019-2024 Strategic Plan for more information and stay tuned for updates on the 2024-2029 Strategic Plan – which is critical to informing where to focus our institutional energy to create a sustainable future for our college.