Alfred University News

Award established to honor Rick McLay ’89, late former Director of Creative Services

Rick McLay '89
Rick McLay '89

Wayne Higby, director of the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum, has established an award honoring his friend and former colleague at Alfred University, Rick McLay ’89, who passed away in December 2020.


ALFRED, NY—Wayne Higby, director of the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum, has established an award honoring his friend and former colleague at Alfred University, Rick McLay ’89, who passed away in December 2020.

McLay, who earned a B.F.A. degree from Alfred University in 1989, wore many hats as the University’s Director of Creative Services. He designed and coordinated the production of numerous print publications—among them academic brochures, alumni mailings, athletics recruiting pieces, and the Alfred alumni magazine—took photographs, and produced videos for use across campus. McLay, who retired in 2019 following a 36-year career at Alfred University, also found time to serve as an adjunct instructor of graphic design.

McLay and Higby, a world-renowned ceramic artist, collaborated over the years on a number of print projects—some showcased Higby’s studio work; others, like the news magazine Ceramophile, promoted the Alfred Ceramic Art Museum.

“He gave my ideas wings and I depended on his tireless energy to help guide my decision making during long hours together at printers and publishers,” Higby recalled. “I think of our work together and how fleeting our time together now seems to have been. Time that I thought would still be there for our projects in process.”

Higby announced this week that he has established an award in McLay’s memory. Beginning this spring, the “Rick W. McLay Memorial Award in Graphic Design” will be presented each year at Honors Convocation to a graduating senior with a concentration in graphic design who will be receiving a B.F.A. degree from the School of Art and Design, New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. The recipient—chosen by the University’s leading professor of graphic design—will receive a $1,000 award.

“I have initiated the Rick W. McLay Memorial Award in Graphic Design as a means to honor Rick McLay and to hold onto the memories that will continually serve to inspire,” Higby commented. “Rick will always be an enduring example of a gifted, accomplished and genuinely good person.”

Higby said he will further honor McLay by dedicating the next edition of Ceramophile in his memory.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the fund supporting the Rick W. McLay Memorial Award in Graphic Design may call the Alfred University Division of University Advancement at 607-871-2144. Or, mail checks—made payable to Alfred University, Division of University Advancement—to Alfred University, Division of University Advancement, Attn. Jason Amore, 1 Saxon Drive, Alfred, NY  14802.