Alfred University News

Alfred University celebrates tradition of mentorship

At Thursday evening’s Board of Trustees dinner, Alfred University celebrated its longstanding tradition of mentorship. A group of seniors who would graduate during commencement exercise on Saturday spoke about members of the University community to whom they attributed much of their success.

“When you meet an alumnus of Alfred University and ask them what they treasure most from their time here, the answer is overwhelmingly, ‘Someone took an interest in me and changed my life for the better,’” Mark Zupan, University president, remarked. “That has been a hallmark here.”

The University surveyed seniors and asked them to identify a member of the campus community— faculty, staff, fellow students— who served as mentors to them. Approximately 75 were identified; each received a gift—a unique purple and gold candle—with a note from the student who considered them to be a mentor.

“We contacted all graduating students and asked that they write about who was a mentor to them, who made a difference in their lives,” said Beth Ann Dobie, University provost and chief operating officer. “Almost 80 students responded.”

Casey Curran, who earned a bachelor’s degree in finance, recognized Jason Morrison, professor of finance, as his mentor.

“When I came to Alfred University to study finance, I had heard that a lot of professors had real-world experience. I nominated Jason Morrison for the mentorship award because he has made finance very interesting. He emphasized what you can do in the world of finance. I just wanted to thank him.”

Samuella Tuffour, who earned a bachelor's degree in interdepartmental studies, had a difficult time choosing a single mentor.

“Throughout my time at Alfred, I met wonderful professors and friends who helped me grow as a person,” Tuffour said. “I couldn’t choose just one mentor; I chose five.”

Tuffour’s mentors included Heather Yanda, senior lecturer in English; Sarah Cody, clinical assistant professor of English; Abby Hurley, coordinator of the Judson Leadership Center; Nadine Shardlow, dean of Student Experience; and Robert Reginio, associate professor of English.

The two winners of the 2023 Marlin Miller Outstanding Senior Awards—Owen Nelson and Knox VanRenselaar—who cited important Alfred University mentors in their lives.

Nelson recognized Eliza Ordway, director of student activities.

“Going into my junior year, I wanted to become more involved on campus,” said Nelson, who earned a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering. “Because of (Ordway), I left the swim team and created my own club, Alpha Eta Beta,” the engineer study club he founded in 2022.

“Without Eliza, a lot of students would not have reached their potential,” Nelson said.

VanRenselaar, who earned bachelor’s degrees in history and theater (minor in adolescent education) in December 2022, said they had many mentors.

“I had a whole village at Alfred that helped mentor me,” VanRenselaar said. “I never felt alone.”

VanRenselaar expressed gratitude to their friends and professors, along with the staff at the University’s libraries. During their time at Alfred, they worked as a circulation desk assistant, then as circulation desk student supervisor at Scholes Library. “Thank you to all my mentors. I deeply appreciate you," they said.