2020 is without question the most challenging year I have had as President of ACPHS. The year began with the fear and uncertainty of an impending global pandemic. The next months were spent simultaneously transforming the curriculum, and developing and implementing various health and safety protocols to protect our College community. The fall brought our postponed Middle States accreditation visit and the difficult decision, after much analysis and deliberation, to close our satellite campus in Vermont. Throughout all of this, our goal was to ensure ACPHS continues to achieve its mission of "educating the next generation of leaders to improve the health of our society" not only now, but for generations to come.
One might readily conclude that this was not a good year for the College, but that is simply not the case. As I reflect upon all that we have been working on, we have a lot to be proud of and excited about. Despite the pandemic, we have made progress on a number of fronts, continuing to distinguish and strengthen the College, improve the student experience, advance the pharmacy profession and create a state-of-the-art biopharmaceutical education and training center.
Offering January Start & New Academic Programs
This year, we developed three new opportunities for prospective students that distinguish us from other colleges: a January start, a Master's in Biomanufacturing and Bioprocessing (Professional Science Masters) and a Master's in Biomedical Sciences (Post-Baccalaureate). The Master's in Biomanufacturing and Bioprocessing, a one-year program with a strong emphasis on industrial applications with a paid internship in the biopharmaceutical industry, is designed for undergraduates, graduates, and working professionals interested in a career in the biopharmaceutical industry and is being offered at our new Center for Biopharmaceutical Education and Training (CBET). The Master's in Biomedical Sciences is a one-year program geared for graduates looking to enhance their academic records before pursuing careers in medicine, dentistry, as physician assistants, or other health professions.
To date, we have more than 20 students who will be starting their journey at ACPHS in January 2021, including eight P1 students. Our January start was a response to the cautious approach of many prospective students and has allowed a later entry point.
Improving the Gozzo Student Center
We will begin renovating the Gozzo Student Center this Wednesday to improve the student experience for existing students and make the College more attractive to prospective students. This first phase of the Campus Master Plan was made possible by generous donations, including many from our alumni, to our Discovery for Life fundraising campaign. This project involves relocating the bookstore from the first floor to the basement, and transforming the current bookstore into a gathering space where students can relax, collaborate, study and socialize that we will call the Panther's Den. This project is expected to be completed in April 2021.
Advocating for the Pharmacist Profession
We have taken the lead in establishing a coalition of stakeholders to advocate for pharmacists to get provider status and receive reimbursement for the clinical services they provide. This broad coalition includes the pharmacy professional organizations as well as the NYS schools of pharmacy. The goal of this ongoing effort is a broad scope of legislation involving expanded standing orders and extended collaborative practice agreements. It will allow pharmacists to work at the top of their profession and enable a pharmacist practitioner model that includes reimbursable assessment, therapy and counseling. We are advocating to have the Governor include this legislation in his proposed Executive Budget and enacted by the New York State legislature in 2021.
Created a State-of-the-Art Biopharmaceutical Center
We have created a state-of-the-art Center for Biopharmaceutical Education and Training (CBET) at the Albany NanoTech Complex on Fuller Road, a location that exemplifies the nexus of academia and industry.
This center, the first of its kind in New York State and the first at a pharmacy college, will help establish the Capital Region as a biopharma hub. Starting in 2021, CBET will provide customized workforce training for industry professionals looking to advance their skill sets and obtain hands-on experience with the latest biopharmaceutical technology.
While we have a lot to be proud of, there is still more we can do to improve ACPHS. That is why I will be having a cabinet-wide retreat in January to set the goals for the new year. We will work toward engaging the College community in the process of reviewing, evaluating and enhancing our enrollment management practices. Enrollment management is everyone's business and we need to enable that.
Until then, I wish you all a safe and healthy holiday season and happy new year!