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Alfred University puts a new spin on college tours
10/07/09

AU students ride the new tour bike.

AU students ride the new tour bike.

– It’s a college tour with a twist, a turn, and a couple of hills. It also comes with a dash of “green” and, eventually, a flash of purple and gold.

As colleges and universities across the country revamp that tried-and-true recruitment tool, the college tour, Alfred University is putting a new spin on it, offering a new “green” alternative: a bicycle tour. But don’t expect to see a fleet of two-wheel Schwinns® parked in the driveway of Alumni Hall, home to the Admissions office.

AU’s special tour bike, to be unveiled at 11 this morning, has 14 pedals, seven seats and four wheels. It looks like a cross between a bicycle and tricycle, with a steering wheel.

“I showed the bike to our tour guides, and they loved it,” said Jodi Bailey, director of marketing for the University, located in New York’s Southern Tier. The guides – called “AlFriends” – are enthusiastic about the bike, which they plan to paint in school colors of purple and gold, embellished with streamers and bells. Guides will wear special tee-shirts as well, which they will give to all prospective students and their parents who opt for the bike-powered tour.

She took the idea to Wendy Beckemeyer, vice president for Enrollment Management, who also liked the idea. “It fits perfectly with what Alfred University is all about,” said Beckemeyer. “Our students are very aware of environmental issues, and many of them enjoy outdoor sports that take advantage of our location in the Allegheny foothills. Plus, this is just different enough to be appealing to the type of students who are most attracted to Alfred, from the engineers, who will appreciate the niceties of the steering by Porsche, to the artists who will like the design.”

Nick Alberti, a sophomore art and design major from Saratoga Springs, NY, is one of the tour guides who took an early test drive on the bike. “When you’re riding this, you just have to smile,” he said.

The bike tours will be an option for prospective students and their families. Bailey said the tours will initially be offered on Mondays and Fridays, with additional slots offered if demand warrants.

To see the video or sign up for a tour, see http://www.alfred.edu/adm..."

Bailey said the idea of using the bicycle-built-for-seven had originally been suggested by Jeff Kallay of TargetX, a nationally recognized expert in helping colleges and universities change their college tours to make them more appealing to prospective students than the old “tour-guide-walking-backwards-reciting-facts” format.

He said Alfred’s campus, with academic buildings located primarily along a single, long, flat street, is ideal for offering the option of a bike tour, and the option of having a tour guide and six people on the SAME bike makes it even more attractive.

Kalley said he is not aware of another college or university in the United States offering the same kind of campus tour for prospective families.
Bailey said she has been told by the manufacturer, Conference Bike, based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, there are seven-passenger bikes at one or two other U.S. campuses, but they are not used for tours.

Alfred University, founded in 1836, is one of only 44 colleges and universities included in the 2010 edition of Fiske’s Guide to the “Top Financial Finds on the College Tuition Market.” That puts AU in the top 1 percent of colleges and universities in the country in value for price.