Fiat Intersections

As a glass scientist, Bill LaCourse has spent a lifetime—with no signs of stopping even after five decades at the Inamori School of Engineering—looking at what happens when he puts elements together and applies heat. He knows the results of that fusion can be quite wonderful.

So it is really no surprise when Bill, who was then head of our College of Ceramics, started wondering what would happen if artists and engineers worked together, or if students could take an academic program that led to degrees in both arts and engineering.

Through the years there have been examples of that happening. Bill Carty, a professor of ceramic engineering, and John Gill, professor of ceramic art, pioneered a course “Ceramic Science for the Artist.” It was succeeded about eight years ago by another art/engineering course, “Glassartengine.” It has been team-taught by Angus Powers ’00, associate professor of glass art, and an engineering faculty member—originally SK Sundaram, an Inamori Professor of Materials Science, and now Alix Clare, professor of glass science. While that may be the longest running course that blends the two disciplines, there have been other collaborations between sculptors and materials scientists, glass artists and glass scientists, with some quite remarkable results.

There have been students who have taken courses, even some dual degrees in arts and engineering. Typically, though, it takes them longer than eight semesters to complete the course work because engineering labs and studio courses often overlap.

But, Bill wondered, what would happen if Alfred University intentionally created a program that would allow students to major in both art and engineering, and still graduate on time? He and his wife Pat ’80—a librarian emeritus at Scholes Library, where art and engineering already co-exist—created a fund to allow the University to facilitate those intersections of art and engineering.

Creating a formal academic program, however, would require substantial resources, and that’s where one of Bill’s former students wants to help. The graduate, who wishes to remain anonymous, has committed, through a bequest, a $1.25 million endowment to make Bill’s dream happen.

That’s the kind of magic that happens to benefit the entire University and generations of students to come when a mentor like Bill has such a profound impact on one of his students.

We should never underestimate the impact a teacher, like Bill and countless others at Alfred University over the years, can have on their students and colleagues. Vicki Eaklor, emeritus professor of history, was one such person. After her death on March 8, her colleagues’ thoughts about Vicki were captured on a video. It is a moving tribute to an amazing teacher.

On a lighter note, please enjoy the “highlight reel” of this year’s Reunion, which drew 630 alumni, friends, faculty, staff, and students to campus for a weekend of reminiscing, enjoying a variety of activities, and lots of sunshine. Jason Amore ’97 MBA ’99 and the other members of our Advancement team can take the credit for the programming and the giant “Fiat Lux” letters that now adorn our quad. I’m taking credit for the great weather!

Special teachers, friends, and memories. These are at the heart of the magic that Alfred University’s intersection produces.

Fiat Intersections!

P.S. With five days left before the close of our fiscal year on June 30, we continue to close in on our stretch goal of $1.7 million for the Alfred Fund. As of today, we are at $1.664 million in cash, with pledges totaling $1.758 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. Help us realize the full amount of the challenge committed by either making a gift or by adding to your existing investment. The relevant mailing address is Advancement Office, Alfred University, One Saxon Drive, Alfred, NY 14802, or you can contact Alexandra Argentieri of our Advancement team to pay by credit card (607/871-3173).