Alfred University News

Alfred University awarded $300,000 Emerson Foundation Grant

Alfred University has earned a $300,000 grant from the Fred L. Emerson Foundation to support the design and construction of a new foundry. The project will enhance the University’s art, design and engineering programs, while also replacing the central steam plant with a new, energy-efficient distributed boiler heating system.

“The foundry project will increase the distinctiveness and impact of our academic programs,” said Alfred University president, Mark Zupan. “It promises to attract at least 100 additional students whom we expect will graduate at significantly higher than average rates for our campus given that their majors will largely span art, design and engineering.”

Through the foundry project, the University will be able to realize these highlights:

  • Double the annual intake of undergraduate students to the University’s three-dimensional studies program from 12 to 24 students. The central on-campus location of the new foundry will directly expose prospective students visiting campus to our three-dimensional studies program. offers
  • Build a digital fabrication lab that will attract at least six new engineering students per year.
  • Offer courses in metallurgy that should attract at least six new engineering students per year.
  • Develop a four-year bachelor’s degree spanning our signature art and design and engineering programs.
  • The new foundry will be located proximate to both our STEP (Student Engineering Projects) Lab, which focuses on hands-on applied/experiential learning opportunities for our mechanical engineering students, and our outdoor kilns, allowing us to create and promote a distinctive “Ring of Fire” in the central part of campus to prospective students.

Finally, the energy efficiency and thereby the sustainability of our University’s operations will be improved through a shift from a central steam approach to a distributed boiler system.

The grant funding will be allocated as follows:

  • $75,000 to hire an individual as quickly as possible to expand the University’s summer offerings, particularly in the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) area, for prospective students to Alfred University—notably current high school students.
  • $75,000 to enhance the pool of funding for APEX (Applied/Experiential) learning-by-doing opportunities available to students, notably those who explore intersections across the University’s STEAM offerings. The APEX program was launched in 2017 through a generous philanthropic gift of $500,000 by Michele Cohen, Alfred University trustee. Several alumni and friends have since added their own contributions to the APEX program.
  • $150,000 to help equip spaces for the University’s digital fabrication lab and metallurgy program. The main construction material would be recycled glass. The company that has proposed partnering with us on this project will build, or “3-D print,” the building at no or minimal cost to demonstrate proof of concept. This aspect of the project would further demonstrate the University’s commitment to sustainability and a maker culture; highlight its expertise in glass recycling; and provide added capacity for its engineering offerings.

In keeping with the Emerson Foundation’s focus on providing leverage, Alfred University is committed to raising at least four times the amount of the grant awarded from other sources.

The foundry project spans the University’s programmatic improvement and facilities enhancement campaign categories. In November of 2020, Cohen and her husband, Martin, committed $6 million toward the endeavor, which allowed the University to move ahead with accepting $8.3 million in support from the SUNY Construction Fund for the project.

Since the Cohens’ commitment, Alfred University has received $2.2 million in added philanthropic support, largely for scholarships targeting engineering and art and design students. This will enhance the impact of the foundry project by building a pipeline of prospective students interested in the intersections provided by Alfred University through its STEAM offerings.