Press Releases

College Confers Bachelors, Masters And Doctorate Degrees At Commencement 

May 11, 2024

Visit the ACPHS Commencement page for our 2024 SEEN gallery, graduate stories, an event recap video and the livestream 

Nearly 240 undergraduate, graduate and PharmD students crossed the stage today at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences’ 144th Commencement at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in Saratoga Springs, NY.   

The PharmD students had an opportunity to receive both an undergraduate degree and a doctoral pharmacy degree. More than 40% of the PharmD students chose to receive two degrees and this year the graduates added either a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences with a pharmacy skills’ track or a Bachelor of Science in Public Health.  

In addition, approximately 10% of these graduates will remain at the College to pursue further study in one of ACPHS’ additional degree programs.  

Class of 2024 Breakdown  

There are 161 female and 77 male students in the Class of 2024, with the youngest student aged 22 and the oldest student aged 54, including: 

  • 220 students are in their twenties 
  • 18 students are in their thirties 
  • One student is in their forties  
  • The oldest student in in their fifties 

Among these students, degrees conferred including:  

  • 114 received undergraduate degrees 
  • 16 BS/MS dual degrees 
  • 32 master’s degrees 
  • 16 accelerated dual degree BS/MS degrees 
  • 128 PharmD degrees 

Graduates hail from 21 states, one US territory - Puerto Rico, and 12 countries including the United States, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, China, Eritrea, Guyana, India, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea and South Sudan.   

Pomp and Circumstance  

A time-honored procession punctuated by bagpipes from Schenectady Pipe Band and an inspiring rendition of the National Anthem by ACPHS BS/MS Pharmaceutical Sciences graduate, Aldrian Belrad ’24, and ACPHS students Nana Akua Sefa Adonu ’26 and Lauren Trackey ’27, both PharmD candidates kicked off the festivities. Board of Trustees Chair, Walt Borienok opened the ceremony.  

Borisenok elicited laughter at the beginning of the ceremony when he shared the story of being rejected twice by ACPHS as an applicant to the College, then being asked to join the board 40 years later.

“You do not know where your journey will take you. It will not necessarily be planned out, and that’s okay. You will come across opportunities on your journey: take advantage of them. There will be challenges. Step up to those challenges. There will be risk. Do not be afraid of risk. Parts of the journey will be difficult to get through. It will be hard. But we already know that you know how to work hard, and you will be able to get through.”

President Tofade welcomed the graduates and their families and friends before introducing the Commencement speaker, Mark Shaefer, PharmD, FCCP. Shaefer, a veteran in the field of HIV and antiviral pharmaceuticals, served as one of the earliest members to form ViiV Healthcare. His intensive pharmaceutical experience is complemented by expertise in clinical pharmacy, academic teaching and research.  

Dr. Shaefer presented anecdotes from his own personal career, including patient care and innovative drug development. He shared two stories about a patient whose condition he helped greatly improve but who nonetheless lived only five years, concluding, “She provided me with lifelong memories and an illustration of how passion for your work, challenging the norms, and using a diverse team to accomplish things people might consider unlikely or impossible are all worthwhile.”

This year’s student speaker, Charles Middleton, received a doctorate in pharmacy and a Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences on the Pharmacy Skills Track. He held multiple leadership positions while at ACPHS including a three-year tenure as captain of the men's soccer team, president of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHSP) campus chapter, and vice-president of the ACPHS Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Middleton noted the growing and emerging fields the Class is moving into. “ New roles and avenues of innovation continue to emerge, offering the promise of positive change and transformative impact, and I believe ACPHS has prepared us to step into these roles with purpose and determination,” he said.

Following graduation, Middleton will pursue a PGY-1 pharmacy residency at the Syracuse VA Medical Center in Syracuse, NY.  

2024 Honorary Degree Recipients  

ACPHS recognized three honorary recipients at Commencement: Chris Del Vecchio ’88, BSPharm, MBA; Leigh Briscoe-Dwyer '87, BSPharm and PharmD; and Real Duteau ’69, RPh.  

Chris Del Vecchio ’88, BSPharm, MBA

Del Vecchio is President and Chief Executive Officer of MVP Health Care. As a health care executive, he is a catalyst for innovation and systemic change and works tirelessly to make patients' lives easier and better.

Prior to joining MVP, he served in chief executive officer roles for health care organizations for nearly 30 years. A visionary strategist to his core, Del Vecchio also had a successful career as an entrepreneur and consultant in health care and technology.

Under his guidance, MVP has gained recognition for leading impactful regional community coalitions and a commitment to collaborative problem-solving. From securing naming rights to the MVP Arena to constructing Fitness Courts throughout New York State, he exemplifies MVP’s unwavering dedication to customer-centric care.

Del Vecchio holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Pharmacy from ACPHS and an MBA in health systems from Union College.

Leigh A. Briscoe-Dwyer ’87, PharmD, BSPharm, BCPS 

A former ACPHS Board Trustee, Dr. Dwyer is the system director of pharmacy for the UHS Hospitals System in Johnson City, NY.  

She is currently president-elect of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, the largest association of pharmacy professionals in the United States. She will then serve for one year as president and one year as immediate past president. 

Dr. Dwyer began her career as a clinical specialist in HIV and infectious disease at SUNY Stony Brook and has worked in various areas of pharmacy practice, including the pharmaceutical industry, with most of the last 20 years in pharmacy leadership roles.   

She holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and her Doctor of Pharmacy degree from St. John's University.  

Real Duteau ’69, RPh 

Duteau is a consultant in the financial pharmaceutical industries.   

Most recently, Duteau served in senior leadership roles with Teva Pharmaceuticals and Novopharm Ltd. in Toronto, Canada.  

He began his pharmaceutical career with Ayerst Labs in Rouses Point, New York. It was there that Duteau teamed up with ACPHS alumni, Dr. C. David Fox ’58, to support the development of a manufacturing process for Advil. He also worked part-time for many retail pharmacies in NY and VT and ultimately purchased a pharmacy in Port Henry New York, which he maintained for many years.  

During his career in the pharmaceutical industry, he became acutely aware that the research and manufacturing areas lacked the necessary pharmacists to perform the required work. This led to discussions with the deans and presidents of ACPHS to institute a pharmaceutical sciences curriculum to provide pharmacists for the pharmaceutical industry. This collaboration eventually became the foundation for both a BS and MS in Pharmaceutical Sciences at the College.  

The Class of 2024   

ACPHS President, Toyin Tofade, concluded the ceremony saying, “Remember to serve. Serve your patients, your colleagues, your mentors, your advisors, your family, your friends. When you put your expertise to work in the service of others, the rewards come back to you in more ways than you can count.”    

Each ACPHS graduate has a unique story to share about their journey and why they chose ACPHS. From academic excellence, internships, residencies and fellowships to community service, research, and leadership, learn more about some of their experiences.   

About Albany College of Pharmacy and Life Sciences  

Founded in 1881, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS) is a private, independent college dedicated to educating the next generation of leaders to improve the health of society. ACPHS offers 14 undergraduate, graduate and doctorate programs including an online version of our Master of Biomedical Sciences as well as the only Master of Biomanufacturing and Bioprocessing in the state. Students have myriad opportunities to extend what they are learning in the classroom at the Stack Family Center for Biopharmaceutical Education and Training (CBET), at student-supported pharmacies in underserved communities, and at the Collaboratory, a public health resource designed to alleviate community health disparities. ACPHS ranks #1 in New York State for best return on investment by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce and was graded an A+ for value by Niche. For more information, visit