Fiat LED Lux
Light (“Lux” in Latin) is integral to our University’s motto. It has also allowed Alfred University to distinguish itself as a leading higher education institution in the United States when it comes to athletics and the development of student-athletes. Let me tell you why.
In 1930, we became the first college or university in the nation to have permanent lights installed on its football field. The reason stemmed from our historical roots. While we have always been non-sectarian, we were founded by Seventh Day Baptists, who observed the Sabbath from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday. Out of respect for these Seventh Day Baptist values, no home football games were played on Saturday afternoons, a restriction that brought some scheduling complications, particularly since the games were typically scheduled for Friday afternoons. Lights brought Saturday night football to Alfred University.
According to a September 18, 1930 article in the Alfred Sun, the “floods” were “erected on 10 large posts, five to a side, each having four large lights. The lights will flood the field with about 12-million candle power.” The Fiat Lux student newspaper reported on September 23, 1930: “Alfred University’s athletic revival surpassed all local records last Saturday night with a 27-0 victory over Clarkson Tech (now Clarkson University) before a crowd of over 3,500 fans. The game marked Western New York’s baptism of nocturnal football and resulted in the most colorful and enthusiastic display ever seen on Merrill Field.”
In 1954, to mark the 75th anniversary of Thomas Edison’s creation of the first practical incandescent bulb, New York Electric and Gas Company had a giant 75,000-watt replica of Edison’s bulb made. It was the largest and brightest lamp in the world at the time, and it was lit at Merrill Field, according to a September 28, 1954 article in the Fiat Lux. The filament of the giant bulb was made from 2.7 pounds of tungsten, enough to create the filament in 67,500 60-watt bulbs. The 75,000-watt bulb was 42 inches high, 20 inches in diameter, and weighed 50 pounds. The electricity used to light it could power 190 homes. “Louis Gauss, veteran gaffer at the Corning Glass Works, where the bulbs for the first incandescent lamps were blown in 1879, created the huge glass bulb by hand,” the Fiat Lux reported.
Now, Alfred University trustee John Edmond ’83 and his wife Rita are making a $215,000 gift to put our University in the forefront of athletic field lighting again. John is a co-founder and chief technology officer at Cree, Inc., one of the world’s leading LED lighting companies, headquartered in North Carolina and publicly traded on NASDAQ. Cree has over 7,000 employees and generates $1.5 billion in annual revenues.
Courtesy of the generosity of John and Rita Edmond, Musco Lighting, a company that is a leader in lighting athletic facilities, will be installing state-of-the-art Cree LED lights so that, by the opening of our fall sports season, Merrill Field and Yunevich Stadium will become one of the first LED-illuminated outdoor university/college athletic facilities in the State of New York.
As a side note, this fall will mark the 120th season for Alfred University football. Above please find a picture of our second football team in 1896, none of whom, unfortunately, were able to join us for this year’s Reunion. Because we suspended play for three years during World War II, this fall will be our 120th season. While the football team now typically plays on Saturday afternoon (which in Alfred does not always preclude the use of lights on the field!), the lights still will get quite a workout. Five of our athletic teams—men’s and women’s soccer, men’s and women’s lacrosse, as well as football—rely on our Yunevich Stadium/Merrill Field facilities for home varsity contests as well as practices. It’s not unusual to see the lights on long into the night and early in the morning to accommodate the needs of our student-athletes. The Edmonds’ gift represents another welcome investment in our thriving athletic programs that involve over 40 percent of our incoming first-year students. Over 25 percent of all of our undergraduates participate on at least one varsity athletic team.
Please join me in thanking John and Rita Edmond for their wonderful philanthropic investment that will allow our athletic facilities to once again help light the way in the field of higher education.
Fiat LED Lux!
P.S. As we approach the close of our fiscal year on June 30, we are rapidly closing in on our stretch goal of $1.7 million for the Alfred Fund. As of this morning, we are at $1.601 million in cash, with pledges totaling $1.748 million. To help us reach our goal, Lisa and Peter Wall ’95 MBA have created another $25,000 challenge to match, dollar-for-dollar, any new gifts made to the Alfred Fund by June 30. We thus have a total of $50,000 in a challenge match thanks to Lisa and Peter and an anonymous donor to help us reach our target. If you have already made a pledge for the Alfred Fund this year, please be sure to fulfill it by the end of this month. The relevant mailing address is Advancement Office, Alfred University, One Saxon Drive, Alfred, NY 14802. Help us realize the full amount of the challenge committed by either making a gift or by adding to your existing investment. Use this same mailing address or contact Alexandra Argentieri of our Advancement team to pay by credit card (firstname.lastname@example.org, 607/871-3173).