Alfred University News

Alfred University announces ‘Year of Glass’ events, conferences, celebrations, as United Nations establishes 2022 as International Year of Glass

When Alfred University Professor Emeritus David Pye ’59 ’68 learned the United Nations would declare 2015 the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies, he began thinking of a similar UN resolution that would establish an International Year of Glass.

ALFRED, NY – When Alfred University Professor Emeritus David Pye ’59 ’68 learned the United Nations would declare 2015 the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies, he began thinking of a similar UN resolution that would establish an International Year of Glass.

The result is a resolution approved this week by the UN General Assembly declaring 2022 the International Year of Glass. Pye’s colleagues at Alfred University, working in both the Inamori School of Engineering and the School of Art and Design are preparing for a year that celebrates Alfred University as one of the preeminent glass science and arts education institutions in the country.

The University is the only institution of higher education in the country that offers the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in Glass Science Engineering. Side by side with glass technology research, artists studying in the School of Art and Design have used the medium of glass in creating art on display in private and public collections around the world.

Glass art and glass technology are changing world culture and industry, observes Bill LaCourse, retired Alfred University Professor of Glass Science. “Glass is booming.”

2022 is still eight months in the future; however, LaCourse is envisioning a number of programs showcasing Alfred University’s role in bringing glass technology to the center of modern manufacturing processes. His ideas include an international conference that gathers glass technology experts from around the world, as well as the reopening of the Paul Vickers Gardner Glass Center as a venue for interdisciplinary glass studies. Vickers, a 1930 graduate of the University’s College of Ceramics, served as curator of ceramics and glass at the Smithsonian Institution.

Mutual relations between glass technology and art will also be showcased in the School of Art and Design. Angus Powers, Professor of Glass in the Division of Sculptural and Dimensional Studies, will continue his explorations of that interplay through GlassArtEngine, a course in which glass engineering and art students partner to work through research and technical challenges, exploring new physical combinations of glass as a material. Visiting artists and Alfred University’s Art Talks will also highlight the University’s status as a uniquely supportive environment for glass artists.

The New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University’ is ideally positioned to provide key services and opportunities to glass scholars, engineers, and artists through the 2022 International Year of Glass. The College was founded in 1900 by an act of the New York State Legislature, then took shape in the heart of the Arts and Crafts movement, dedicating itself to educating students in both ceramic manufacturing processes and ceramic art. The University continues to lead international explorations of applied glass technologies through its Center for Glass Innovation.

“Our initiatives have placed us squarely at the center of the new Age of Glass,” says Alfred University President Mark Zupan. “It’s not an overstatement to say Alfred University, together with David Pye’s efforts, have played a key role in the UN’s declaration of 2022 as the International Year of Glass.”

Glass engineers trained at Alfred University include John Mauro ’01 ’06 and Robert Schaut ’02, both of whom have played major roles in modern glass technologies. Mauro, currently Professor of Materials Science and Engineering Chair at Penn State University, worked at Corning Inc., where he co-invented the modern iteration of the clear, hardened material known familiarly as Gorilla Glass. Schaut, currently Scientific Director for Pharmaceutical Technologies at Corning Inc., served as team leader in Corning’s development of Valor Glass, used in medicine vials including the containers used for COVID 19 vaccines.

In the field of glass art, graduates of Alfred University’s School of Art and Design also have carved out positions of leadership and the highest regard. “Works by faculty members and alumnx have been in exhibitions and are part of private and public collections around the world,” says Lauren Lake, Dean of the School of Art and Design. Well-known glass artists with Alfred University degrees include Chicago-based artist Pearl Dick ‘98, Artistic Director of Firebird Community Arts and the co-creator of Project FIRE, a glassblowing and trauma recovery program for youth injured by gun violence in Chicago; also the renowned glass artist Joel Philip Myers, Fellow of the American Craft Council and Honorary Life Member of the Glass Art Society, whose work has been described as “exquisite craftsmanship and an extraordinarily strong sense of formal design.”

With the UN General Assembly’s passage this work of the International year of Glass Resolution, David Pye has continued his own work as an international leader in glass science. In addition to serving on the Alfred University faculty for 34 years, Pye served also as dean of the College of Ceramics before his retirement in 2002. He has served also as president of the International Commission on Glass and president of the American Ceramic Society. Pye also worked closely with both Corning Inc. and the Corning Museum of Glass, in encouraging the UN General Assembly to consider establishing 2022 as the International year of Glass. Their combined efforts have contributed to more than 1,100 endorsements from 74 United Nations member countries.

Alfred University will post announcements of its initiatives in glass science and art as the International Year of Glass approaches, in addition to hosting individual events in 2022 to celebrate glass engineering and art. Glass art extends back to the Bronze Age, and engineers in the Age of Rome developed architectural uses for the material; Alfred University will continue to highlight ways in which glass technology is vital part to the global economy, and glass art a key feature of modern arts creation.

(For additional information about the UN initiative, view a video presentation of IYofG proposal here.)