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ACPHS Breaks Ground On Major Classroom Renovation Project

In a neighborhood that has been transformed over the last decade, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences has launched a $1.65 million project to transform unused space at 84 Holland Ave. into state-of-the-art active learning classrooms.

The groundbreaking ceremony to remake the 5,850-square foot space was held Thursday.

When completed this spring, classrooms that have lain dormant since 2006 when the college purchased the two-story building from the State Liquor Authority will come alive with technology-enhanced environments.  ACPHS President Dr. Greg Dewey says today's students need to be trained as communicators and problem-solvers in a complex healthcare environment.   "We are faced with difficult pedagogical tasks at the college in training the next generation of health care professionals and health scientists. The health care and health science industry provides challenging and dynamic opportunities for our students but we need to prepare them for those opportunities.  Our students need the ability to think critically, to communicate clearly and to solve complex problems. These skill sets are not always learned in a passive environment."

Less than 70 students will be assigned to each classroom, with tables that seat 6-8. The idea is to foster dynamic, small group interaction and teamwork.   "These new spaces will do two things for us. First, they will allow us to explore exciting possibilities that technology provides for improving pedagogy. We can leverage technology to become better teachers and to deliver content to the students in a more efficient way. Second, they provide an environment for group learning. That is, this space can accommodate student breakout and discussion groups, and it opens up a variety of team-learning approaches. Invariably, as these students move into their professions, they will be involved in intraprofessional teams and this will be very useful training for them."

Classrooms will hold up to 70 students per room, and tables will seat 6-8 students, fostering dynamic, small group interaction and teamwork.
Credit ACPHS
Classrooms will hold up to 70 students per room, and tables will seat 6-8 students, fostering dynamic, small group interaction and teamwork.

Jennifer Berish, a pharmacy major, is excited about the project and the way it will sharpen the learning experience.   "My generation has become accustomed to interacting with each other in easily accessible and high-technology areas. These new classrooms will allow us to learn and communicate in such a way. In the smaller setting, my class will be able to develop teamwork skills and everyone in the small table group will have their voice heard. We can openly share our thoughts and provide feedback to each other. We will be able to better interact with each other, cultivate our ideas, and foster communication skills, all of which are essential to our future careers as pharmacists and health care professionals. This break from the classic lecture hall setting will not only be attractive to our own population but to our incoming students as well. And as a student ambassador for the college, I will be able to show this area to prospective students, and I truly believe they will set our campus apart from our competitors."

Renovations are funded by a $335,000 grant from the New York State Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program, along with contributions from Rite Aid, The Kinney Drugs Foundation and Envision Architects, PC. Additional funds are being raised from corporate and community partners, alumni, and friends of the college. The school has about 1,300 students at its Albany campus.

The project is expected to be completed this spring.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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