What do parents look for in a college or university where their children will invest four years as students - and where they will invest thousands of dollars as their children earn their degrees?
Dale and Sue Meier of Rochester found the answer at Alfred University. "A great education, lots of opportunities, and a caring community."
Dale, a 1976 alumnus of Alfred University, already knew the campus, of course. He and Sue brought their twin daughters Hannah and Olivia to Alfred many times when the girls were growing up, and they made Alfred the first stop of many when the girls began their search for colleges in the fall of 2004. "This time was special, showing our babies the campus and school that I always have loved," said Dale.
Nonetheless, the family spent the following spring vacation on a swing through the Northeast in search of the "perfect school, not realizing they had already visited the perfect campus: Alfred University." Dale recalled, "I stayed away from steering them to Alfred. It needed to be their choice, but of course, I loved their choice. I am a 1976 graduate and my brother followed me in 1978. Alfred gave me lifelong friends and wonderful memories."
Decision made, Hannah and Olivia arrived on the AU campus in the fall of 2006, ready to immerse themselves in the academic and extracurricular offerings. "They have had opportunities to play Division III sports, travel with Habitat for Humanity, join academic fraternities, get internships and become student tutors.
More, at Alfred, Hannah and Olivia found a "small campus with caring and accessible professors that help them on an individual basis. Alfred allows our daughters to interact with a varied group of students from many different walks of life, with stories and backgrounds we could never give them, and we are thankful for this," Dale and Sue said. The University has "given our daughters a sense of community and taught them the value of giving their time and talents. It has opened up possibilities for them they only dreamed of" when they visited in the fall of 2004. "Alfred pushes them to achieve their dreams."
But it took a near-tragedy to really underscore the caring community that is Alfred University.
Hannah and Olivia were among the students living in an apartment on the second floor of a Main Street building when fire broke out about 6 a.m. on Oct. 29, 2009. The tenants, including Hannah and Olivia, lost all their possessions â€“ clothes, books, computers, cell phones, and school work.
"What we will always remember, long after the resumes have faded, is the remarkable response the University had when the girls' off-campus apartment on Main Street burned to the ground," Dale and Sue said in a recent letter. "They lost everything. But before we could drive down from Rochester, the University had seen to it that the girls had warm clothes, necessities, access to books and computers, a warm shower, and the keys to a place to stay. The outpouring of support was unbelievable. Just a little example: the assistant director of food services delivered ipods to them to make them feel better!
"While the university had no legal responsibility, they nonetheless rallied to set up collections and to ensure their every need was met. We already loved the school, but that clinched it for us. It's hard to imagine a more complete, efficient, and loving response. A great education, lots of opportunities, and a caring community."