When he was a child, William C. Kenyon’s family suffered such extreme poverty that he was indentured into servitude at just five years old. Fourteen years later, he had earned enough to buy his freedom and turned to a teaching position at Alfred Select School to fund further education. It is believed that he trekked nearly forty miles through mud and snow to reach his destination. He became the School’s third teacher and, later, Alfred University’s first President.
During a time when an eighth-grade education was considered superior and education was almost exclusively reserved for men, President Kenyon did something radical: he established A.U. as a college where neither gender nor race hindered an individual’s right to learn. His intrepid choices presented Alfred University as New York State’s first coeducational college. The values crafted during his presidency founded the University then and continue to inspire it now.