William A. Rogers was a man of both faith and science. Equally drawn to the teachings of the Seventh Day Baptist faith and the enigmas of physical reality, Williams believed in an intrinsic connection between religion and science and he spent much of his life exploring both. After graduating from Brown University, he was immediately recognized as a distinguished scholar and hired to teach mathematics at Alfred Academy. While on leave from the Academy, he enlisted in the Union Navy and served as a captain’s clerical assistant during the Civil War.
In 1863, he returned to Alfred to complete the campus’s first astronomical observatory. The measurements he determined in this observatory allowed him to measure the positions of several stars, which further enabled him to calculate asteroid positions. His findings were published locally as well as in Britain, Germany, and France. His work earned him an international reputation as a physicist and astronomer.