Alfred University holds virtual breakfast opening 185th academic year
Meeting the continuing challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and celebrating and building upon recent successes, are two prominent themes at Alfred University as it prepares to commence its 185th academic year.
ALFRED, NY—Meeting the continuing challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, and celebrating and building upon recent successes, are two prominent themes at Alfred University as it prepares to commence its 185th academic year.
“When we chose the tagline ‘Outside of Ordinary,’ who knew how appropriate it would be over the last several months?” Mark Zupan, Alfred University president, commented during Tuesday’s breakfast marking the opening of the 2020-21 academic year. The event was held virtually in a Zoom meeting, with nearly 300 staff and faculty members participating.
The University will reopen this Fall following a Spring semester in which students finished most of their studies online from home. Some students—international students and those on the New York State travel advisory list—began arriving on campus almost two weeks ago; the remaining students, nearly 1,000, will move in over three days this weekend. Classes will begin on Monday, Aug. 24, with the first two weeks held online. After that, beginning Sept. 7, classes will be held either online, in-person, or as a hybrid combination of both.
Zupan spoke of what the University has accomplished over the past academic year—the addition of two new majors (business analytics and data analytics); the restart of the computer science and health planning and management majors; new Bachelor of Science degree programs in chemistry, biology, and biochemistry; professional development opportunities for faculty in online course delivery; and extensive involvement by faculty and staff in reading groups on How to be an Antiracist.
“Today is an opportunity for us to take stock and move forward,” Zupan commented. “We have a lot of accomplishments we can be proud of. Most importantly, the future is ours to create.”
While enrollment is down from projections made before the COVID-19 pandemic—as is the case across higher education—Alfred University is performing well in that respect relative to its peers, particularly with regard to class quality. “We anticipate having one of our highest-quality group of students coming in this fall,” Zupan said, referring to improvements in average SAT scores and high school GPAs. Indications are that Alfred’s rate of retention following the beginning of the pandemic is better than many of its peer schools.
Zupan stressed that all members of the University community—students, staff, and faculty—must do their best to promote safe practices. Students were required to sign a “Protect the Lux” commitment, in which they acknowledge their duties for protecting the health and well-being of their peers, staff and faculty, and members of the local community. Staff and faculty are expected to do their parts as well. “Each of us has important responsibilities to bear. We are only as strong as our weakest link,” he said.
Zupan pointed to some exciting projects that are underway on the Alfred University campus.
Thanks to the generous philanthropic support of Marlin Miller ’54, H ’89, and H ‘19, renovations at Openhym residence hall, the largest co-educational facility on our campus, will be completed by this Fall. Openhym will have 75 double rooms and nine singles, a completely updated first-floor that includes a game room, makerspace, kitchen, dining area, classroom/multipurpose space, small-group study spaces, and outdoor patio.
Three trustees—Marlin Miller, James Jordan ’72 (who in 2018 created an endowed fund for campus beautification), and John Edmond ’83—are funding a beautification project that will repave campus roadways, creating walking/jogging/bicycling paths; install benches; and add roughly 100 parking spaces. Edmond, a co-founder of Cree Inc., a manufacturer of LED lighting systems, is supporting the cost of installing new, energy-efficient lighting along campus roadways. Once finished, the project will be dubbed “Marlin Miller Way.”
A $1 million gift from Kristen ’92, MS ’93, and Alex Klabin will fund the Saxon Success Program and help diversify and strengthen Alfred University’s Wellness Center. The gift is primarily toward establishing an endowment but also includes some initial startup funding to hire a program coordinator in the Wellness Center. The coordinator will oversee the work of a team of graduate assistants in the College Student Development, School Counseling, and School Psychology programs, who will advise students, providing a support system that ensures they have the resources they need to succeed.
Zupan announced a $100,000 gift from Ann Moskowitz, a member of the University Board of Trustees and wife of late longtime Trustee Joel Moskowitz ’61. Most of the gift, $90,000 will be used to establish a challenge match for Alfred University’s 2021 Spring Day of Caring/Day of Giving in support of the Alfred Fund. The balance of $10,000 will support the University’s Common Ground program.
Common Ground, a program started in 2018 through generous gifts from the Alfred University Board of Trustees, is required of first-year and transfer students as part of an extended orientation, during which students engage in small group discussions facilitated by members of the Alfred University administration, faculty and staff. The discussions aim to promote a greater appreciation for the different backgrounds and curricular/co-curricular interests that students bring to Alfred University; and identify the common values that students will commit to living by as citizens of the University.
Greg Connors ’92, chair of the Board of Trustees, spoke to those attending the virtual breakfast. He thanked staff and faculty—many whom have been performing their duties from home since late March—for the work they have done over the last several months, during a difficult and challenging time.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we can’t thank you enough for what you have endured,” Connors said. “Thank you for all of your time and the commitment that has gone into reaching this opening day. We wish you luck. Know that we are here to support you in the challenges you will face. We look forward to being with you and thanking you in person.”