According to local legend, Alfred University (and the village it's in) is named for Alfred the Great, ninth-century ruler of southern England, a distinguished leader and thinker, whose best legacy was in the realm of the intellect.
Local lore holds that, more than 150 years ago, a group of English settlers named their new community in Western New York "Alfred" because they saw a striking resemblance between the local scenery and that of King Alfred's capital in England, Winchester. Alfred University proudly bears the name of Alfred, "wise counselor" in its continuing dedication to educational excellence.
Alfred's impact on learning, language and literature, military success, and political unity is still felt today. His reforms--political, legal, military, education--lay the foundation for modern England. He built a network of fortifications, reorganized the army, and revived shipbuilding.
Under Alfred, the laws were codified and the English-speaking people began to feel a sense of shared identity and common cause.
A man of arms by necessity, he was also a reflective man whose translations and writings--poetry, history, geography, moral philosophy, legal codes, psalms--created English literature. His greatest concern was for the decline of learning. He wrote:
"Very often it has come to my mind what men of learning there were formerly throughout England..and how nowadays...we would have to seek them outside...Thanks be to God Almighty that we now have any supply of teachers at all!...As often as you can, free yourself from worldly affairs so that you may apply that wisdom which God gave you wherever you can. Remember what punishments befell us in this world when we ourselves didn't cherish learning nor transmit it to other men."
In 1877, a statue of Alfred the Great was unveiled in England. Its inscription summarizes the legacy of this complex, pivotal figure:
"Alfred found learning dead, and he restored it. Education neglected, and he revived it. The laws powerless, and he gave them force. The Church debased, and he raised it. The land ravaged by a fearful enemy, from which he delivered it. Alfred's name will live as long as mankind shall respect the past."
Read more about AU's history and traditions...
Alfred believed that learning "makes life more rewarding and enjoyable...The worst thing of all is ignorance."