Alfred University News

Mentorship celebrated on eve of 2024 Commencement

Alfred University last week celebrated its tradition of mentorship at a celebratory dinner Friday, May 10, that saluted graduating students and the faculty members who mentored them through their undergraduate years.

The celebrations extended also beyond the relationships between students and faculty. Board of Trustees Chairman Emeritus Gene Bernstein saluted Life Trustee Jeffrey Maurer ’69, who would receive the Doctor of Commercial Science degree, honoris causa, at the next day’s Commencement ceremony. It was Maurer, Bernstein noted, who talked him into enrolling at Alfred University.

Graduating seniors Emilia Donenberg Smith and Brian Ngatunga, recipients of Alfred University’s 2024 Marlin Miller Outstanding Seniors Award, both saluted faculty members whom they’d identified as vital mentoring influences: Sculpture Professor Angus Powers and Senior Math Lecturer Georgina Beristain-Kendall for Smith, and Angie Taylor, Chief Diversity Officer Title IX Coordinator, for Ngatunga.

Alfred University Vice President for Enrollment Management Kent Jonathan Kent also saluted three graduating seniors who were finalists for the Outstanding Seniors Award: Siena Cefalu, Sarah Lutkins, and Monica Nowik.

Additionally, 14 groups of faculty members and graduating seniors were singled out for exemplifying the spirit of mentorship that is characteristic of an Alfred University education. Mark Danes, vice president of Marketing and Communications, noted each of the students had identified individual faculty who had supported them through their undergraduate years. Each of those faculty were honored with a certificate and purple and gold commemorative candle.

The faculty/student groups included:

Matt Phillips, Head Men's and Women's Cross Country and Track/Field Coach, cited by Kevin Flint ’24 and Sarah Lutkins ’24.

Jeff Nunez, Assistant Track and Field and Throws Coach, cited by Kenneth Berlin ’24.

Professor of Education Tim Nichols, cited by Bradley Wynn ’24.

Professor of Environmental Studies Frederic Beaudry, cited by Avery Smith ’24.

Associated Professor of Marketing Shelly Freyn, cited by Sienna Cefalu ’24.

Professor of Ceramic Engineering Holly Shulman, cited by Olivia Gilbert ’24.

Assistant Professor of Geology Michaela Fendrock, cited by Avery Smith ’24.

Associated Professor of Glass Science Doris Möncke, cited by Lucas Greiner ’24.

Professor of English Juliana Gray, cited by Ashton Julian ’24.

Assistant Professor Analytics Ayush Sengupta, cited by Thomas Callen ’24

Associate Professor Communication Studies Nick Schlegel, cited by Monia Nowik ’24.

Chief Diversity Compliance Officer Angie Taylor, cited by Bianca Durso ’24.

Professor of Spanish Kerry Kautzman, cited by Lio Bonaccio ’24.

The theme of mentorship also arose in remarks by Life Trustee Maurer, who spoke after being introduced by Chairman Emeritus Bernstein and cited the late Saxons football coach Alex Yunevich, who honored Maurer’s Jewish heritage by not requiring him to play football on the Yom Kippur Saturday.

“Coach Yunevich told me to do what I thought was right,” said Maurer, who serves as chairman of Evercore Wealth management, which he and partners founded in 2008, and Evercore Trust Company, N.A. “Resiliency and leadership,” he added, “that’s what I learned at Alfred.”

Alfred University President Mark Zupan remarked further than Alfred University’s mentoring spirit inspires confidence in the future despite troubling current events.

“There are lots of things to worry about in the world,” Zupan said. “But when you see all these people, we’re going to be okay. What tonight’s celebration shows, not only our students, but our leaders and faculty and staff are living their purpose.”