SUNY Adirondack Alumni Association
Bill Alden, Class of 1964 and 28-year DEA veteran: "You don't have to be the fastest horse in the race - you just need a willingness to get to the finish line."
William “Bill” Alden, a member of the SUNY Adirondack Class of 1964, has spent most of his working adult life in law enforcement and drug abuse prevention, including 28 years with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. Now Bill is taking on a safer but no less intimidating task: Educating the public on the cost and consequences of the sale and use of illegal drugs.
Bill Alden, SUNY Adirondack Class of 1964 and Chairman and CEO of the DEA Educational Foundation, Washington, D.C.
As the founder and now Chairman and CEO of the DEA Educational Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., Bill funnels his talent and expertise in supporting “Target America,” a 10,000 square-foot traveling exhibit created to educate people about the economic, social and legal consequences of the use of illegal drugs, here in the U.S. and around the world. The exhibit has made stops at ten U.S. cities in 11 years and opens in Baltimore in 2014. He says the exhibit’s next stop after Baltimore may be Boston, and he hopes to bring the exhibit to the Albany area in the near future.
He and his wife, the former Patricia Smatko – a 1965 nursing graduate of SUNY Adirondack - reside in Oakton, VA. Bill visited the SUNY Adirondack campus over the summer and met with President Duffy and members of the Alumni Relations staff.
Q: What is the mission of “Target America”?
A: We want to educate the people on the cost and consequences of illegal drugs, and we want them to be aware of the impact of drug use on families, communities and the environment. Twenty-two million people have passed through the exhibit so far. But we don’t preach: We don’t spout propaganda and we don’t bombard people with slogans. We present the facts. Most people don’t know what drugs do to the brain and the body.
Q: Washington State and Colorado recently legalized marijuana, and other states have approved it for medicinal use. What is your take on that?
A: I think the term that’s most used is “normalization.” Kids now think it’s a “safe” drug, but it’s the furthest thing from safe. THC, the effective chemical in marijuana, has a ten-times-greater effect on the physiology of a 15-year-old kid than it does on a 50-year-old adult. It’s proven that the receptors in a young person’s brain are damaged with habitual marijuana use, and kids don’t learn as well. There are definite short-term and long-term effects from this kind of behavior.
Aside from the physical effects, however, the political ramifications of the sale of illegal drugs are well known. Drugs have funded every terrorist organization known to man. These groups formulate an ideology first, and then they find ways to fund their agendas. But once they see that drug sales can bring in vast amounts of money, they tend to focus less on the ideology and more on increasing their drug profits.
Q: How did you make the decision to attend classes at SUNY Adirondack?
A: I was a South Glens Falls boy, grew up there. My first college experience was at Paul Smiths College in the hotel/restaurant management program, but I didn’t like it. I was totally confused so I came home. My father got me a job at Warren Tire in Glens Falls, but that was NOT what I wanted to do, so I decided to go back to school. The college had opened the campus in Hudson Falls so I signed up and took some liberal arts courses.
Q: Was there a professor or instructor who influenced you at some point?
A: Strangely enough, I had a speech professor, and I can’t remember his name at the moment, but he sat me down and guided me. He got me to focus on what I really wanted to do.
Q: How were you inspired to pursue a career in law enforcement?
A: I worked at a Howard Johnson’s and met a lot of state troopers who would tell me stories about what they encountered in their jobs. I think that was the defining moment for me. I was determined to get into law enforcement.
I graduated from SUNY Adirondack in 1964 and then transferred to Indiana University and earned my B.A. in 1966. Pat and I got married in 1965. I started my career in the U.S. Customs Service, and after one year transferred to the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN). Through a series of mergers FBN eventually became the DEA is 1973. I’ve been all over the country – Cleveland, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Diego – and now I’m back here in Washington.
Q: In what ways did SUNY Adirondack have an influence on your life?
A: I come from a small town, and I always wanted to do the right thing. SUNY Adirondack made a difference in my life and pointed me in the right direction. I’m really not sure what I would be doing if it wasn’t for SUNY Adirondack.
Q: To what do you attribute your long career at DEA?
A: If you do what you like to do, then it’s not really work. That’s not to say there won’t be a lot of hurdles. There will be. You need a goal, and you have to hang in there. It’s perseverance. You don’t have to be the fastest horse in the race – you just need a willingness to get to the finish line.
(The above story was published October 18, 2013.)
DR. TED D. SPRING, SUNY ADIRONDACK CLASS OF '68, NAMED PRESIDENT OF CAPE FEAR COMMUNITY COLLEGE, WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA
Dr. Ted D. Spring, a graduate of Indian Lake Central School and a SUNY Adirondack alumnus, has been appointed president of Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Dr. Ted D. Spring, President, New River Community and Technical College, Beckley, West Virginia
The Cape Fear Community College Board of Trustees announced the appointment Oct. 2. Dr. Spring is expected to take office at CFCC sometime in November.
Cape Fear Community College is the fourth largest community college in North Carolina and enrolls over 31,000 students.
Dr. Spring is currently president of New River Community and Technical College in Beckley, West Virginia. According to a statement by the college, Dr. Spring has over 33 years of experience in college administration.
"Spring is a first generation college student and a graduate of a community college," the statement reads. "His career has taken him to nine states, multiple institutions of higher education and a variety of leadership positions."
Dr. Spring in the SUNY Adirondack 1968 SCOPE Yearbook.
Dr. Spring is a graduate of the SUNY Adirondack Class of 1968, where he earned an associate degree in business administration. He holds a bachelor's degree from Castleton State College, a master's degree in education from Bowling Green State University, and a doctorate from the University of Maryland.
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