Alfred University News

Alfred University students recognized with SUNY Chancellor’s Awards

A pair of recent graduates of Alfred University were recipients of the 2023 State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence.

Adeye Jean-Baptiste and Owen Nelson were among 193 students from 63 SUNY campuses to receive the award from SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. during an April 24 ceremony. The Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence acknowledges students for outstanding achievements that have demonstrated the integration of SUNY excellence within many aspects of their lives in areas such as academics, leadership, campus involvement, community service, or the arts. It is the highest honor bestowed upon a student by SUNY.

Jean-Baptiste was born and raised in Westchester, NY, and received a BFA degree in May from Alfred University’s School of Art & Design at the New York State College of Ceramics, majoring in art and design with a focus in sculpture & dimensional studies. Her current work is a culmination of this passion for art and craft using skills she has developed over the years such as beading, sewing, glassblowing, and kiln-working alongside her interest in the figure. Outside of her research and practice as a visual artist, she often finds herself involved in community-oriented social practices.

“Adeye is ambitious, resourceful and pursues her art practice with research, passion, and sincerity,” said Lauren Lake, dean of the School of Art and Design. “She is self-driven, thoughtful, and demonstrates an uncommon level of maturity as an undergraduate student. She values her community, and consistently contributes to it an active and meaningful way.”

Jean-Baptiste conceived of and helped organize the Black Glass Artist Series, which brought visiting artists of color to the Alfred University campus each of the last two spring semesters. The artists gave demonstrations of their work and presented artist talks during week-long residencies.

“It is unusual for a student to be as well-connected to the broader glass community at her stage in study, but Adeye has consistently built connections with artists in the field, glass institutions, and non-profit organizations. Of many, some of note are the Crafting the Future, Better Together, and Glass Education Exchange (GEEX),” Lake said. “Adeye’s involvement has included participation in performances and demonstrations that increase BIPOC visibility in the glass community, as well as being a facilitator for the GEEX BIPOC Affinity Group to ensure BIPOC artists already in the field have a platform for support.”

Nelson, from Amherst, NY, earned a bachelor’s degree in martials science and engineering and was one of two 2023 Marlin Miller Outstanding Senior Award recipients. During his time at Alfred, he was a member of the swimming and diving team and the Forest People outdoor and hiking club, and was active in the Keramos Ceramic Honors Society, ODK Leadership Society, TBP Engineering Honors Society, and president of the Materials Advantage Chapter at Alfred, organizing a trip to the national MS&T22 conference. He worked as an Alfred ambassador, and for the past two years, he volunteered to work Welcome Weekend at Alfred for the incoming first-years. He created an engineering study and social club when he felt engineers needed support.

“Owen Nelson represents everything we hope to achieve in preparing “T-shaped” engineering students that have technical depth but also incredible breadth of skillsets in other disciplines,” said Gabrielle Gaustad ’94, dean of the Inamori School of Engineering. “He has been on the Dean’s list every semester of his academic career while balancing a host of leadership roles including president of our student chapter of Materials Advantage – the student version of our professional society representing both the American Ceramics Society (ACerS) and the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society (TMS), and has been an active member of our engineering honor’s society Tau Beta Pi, our ceramic engineering specific honor’s society Keramos, and our leadership honors society Omicron Delta Kappa.”

Gaustad noted that, as a member of the Alfred Wild Club and Forest People, Nelson was part of groups dedicated to enjoying the beautiful wilderness surrounding our campus via hiking, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, canoeing, and kayaking, and camping activities. She said he is best known for “a rather unconventional club that he created” – the Academically Honest Bois – a group he originally formed during and after COVID to support engineering students. The group, she noted, served all genders, not just the ‘bois.’ 

“Owen recognized that cheating was a growing challenge in the engineering department as avenues for peer support and collaboration became diminished – it was easier to turn to online databases like Chegg and Reddit than to turn to fellow students,” Gaustad said. “He felt the need to form a studying and social club aimed at providing peer support within the engineering department.  This group has been incredibly impactful to our programs – improving retention, identifying curricular issues, and reducing academic dishonesty cases.”