Greg Dewey ends tenure as Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences president
As Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences continues to expand its New Scotland Avenue campus, the school is bidding farewell to its ninth president.
June 30th was Greg Dewey's last day at ACPHS. The native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania began his career as an assistant professor at the University of Denver in the early 1980s. As time passed Dewey focused on research, working and teaching.
“And I remember watching, you know, a college president speaking, and I thought to myself, ‘why would anyone want that job,’ " said Dewey. "I just was beyond me at that, at my age, and at that stage in my career, why? Why that would be something someone would aspire to? But anyways, I was in Denver for 18 years, I rose through the ranks there. From assistant associate, full professor, I became the chairman of the Chemistry Department, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. And, you know, we were pretty well established in in Denver. But I got a little restless and I was looking at other things to do.”
Dewey found a rare opportunity with a "startup academic institution" and in 1997 headed to Los Angeles and joined in the founding of a new school called the Keck Graduate Institute for Applied life sciences. Dewey spent his next 14 years in L.A.
"10 of those years was with the Keck Graduate Institute, and then I became provost at a school in Los Angeles called the University of La Verne," said Dewey. "The most comparable thing to it , it's a college a lot like the St. Rose it is the kind of, sort of like maybe a cross between St. Rose and Siena, but it has, basically, about the size and the student population of St. Rose, I was Provost there. And then I was looking to get back into a more scientific school than that. And I, I saw this opportunity, at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. I applied for the job and not being the pharmacist I was, you know, a chemist by background, but I knew a lot about the pharmaceutical industry. And so the board took a chance on me."
That chance paid off. In October 2014 Dewey started at ACPHS. The college says Dewey generated several new ideas and initiatives, including establishing the Center for Biopharmaceutical Education and Training, The Collaboratory community health resource in Albany's South End along with student-run pharmacies in Schenectady and Albany.
“When I came here, you know, maybe not being a pharmacist was a good thing, because I didn't know enough about what I could do and couldn't do," Dewey said. "But, you know, I came, I said, you know, ‘pharmacy schools, don't run pharmacies, medical schools have hospitals, but pharmacy schools don't have pharmacies. Why? Why don't we, why shouldn't we run a pharmacy?’ And so we opened two pharmacies, one at Whitney Young in Arbor Hill and one at Hometown Health in Schenectady. These are pharmacists working in medically underserved areas.”
Dewey pressed on, monitoring the rapid growth of the pharmaceutical industry and mining opportunities for students in biopharmaceuticals.
"We have a microbiology major in our curriculum, we said 'oh, we're gonna put a focus on industrial microbiology,'" said Dewey. "And we just put that concept up on the website, and have a couple courses there. These guys at Eli Lilly saw that and within two weeks, they flew out to look at our students because of the need, that in this the biopharmaceutical area, and we subsequently placed, have been placing students in Lilly, we have about, I would say about 25, or 30 students at Regeneron. And it is, it's gonna be a great career for these kids, but also there’s just an enormous need there. So there's a great opportunity there.”
Dewey says in his eight years at ACPHS he has witnessed dramatic changes in the role of pharmacist, at one point hastened by the pandemic.
“The pharmacists were on the frontline of the pandemic," said Dewey. "They were doing the first they did the testing, then they did the vaccination, and this was all in New York State, this executive order, Cuomo issued two executive orders. One is pharmacist can test for COVID. And pharmacists can vaccinate for COVID. Those were emergency orders, but then showed the world two things about about pharmacists, that not only are they, when you need large capacity, dealing with something like a pandemic, that's the resource you need to go to. And they are a public health resource and not only a medical resource, but they’re a public health resource.”
Dewey predicts the role of the pharmacist will continue to expand including genetics and diagnostic testing, as well as stepping in to meet an anticipated future shortage of primary care physicians, as those doctors age out, retire and will not be replaced.
The 70-year-old contemplated his own future.
“This phone call is probably my last official act as president of the college, but I am I'm retiring and I'm going to move to Sacramento, California, to be near my daughter and my two grandchildren," Dewey said. "So you know, it sounds a little trite or well worn, but you know, people say return, spend more time with the family. Well, that, in fact, is what exactly what I'm going to do. I've heard that you're supposed to have a plan when you retire. But I don't really have a plan. I'm gonna take it one day at a time. I have a lot of little projects I want to work on, but I don't have a plan. So we're going to be near the family. And enjoy the California weather!”
On Dewey's retirement day, June 30th, ACPHS announced the expansion of its Albany campus through the acquisition of a 154,000-square-foot state-of-the-art medical and life sciences facility located at 150 New Scotland Avenue.
In March ACPHS announced Toyin Tofade had been selected as the 10th president. The college says Dr. Tofade is the first Black woman to serve as president in the college’s 141-year history. She began her term on July 1st.