Our fall semester is drawing rapidly to a close, with final exams already under way. Midnight Breakfast, a wonderful Alfred University tradition during which faculty and staff serve breakfast to our students, was held last evening. We wish all of our students good luck with their final exams and assignments followed by a well-deserved holiday break from their studies.
As we head into the holiday break, I wanted to share with you the good news that Marlin Miller ’54, ’89 HD has made a one-for-three challenge commitment of $2.5 million ($500,000 per year for five years) toward further foundational improvements in our residence halls. Through his challenge commitment, Marlin’s intent is to help us generate a total of $10 million in philanthropic investment through inspiring others to follow in his footsteps.
In August 2016, Marlin initiated another one-for-three challenge through a $500,000 commitment to our Strategic Investment Fund. That commitment ended up generating more than $2 million collectively, primarily from his fellow trustees but also from some other alums and friends, toward the Strategic Investment Fund that allowed us to upgrade our website, undertake a branding and marketing initiative, and enhance our enrollment and advancement efforts.
We are presently seeing the pay-off from those efforts. Our applications for 2019 fall undergraduate admission are up 18 percent (1,790 versus 1,525 at the same point in time last year) after being up over 10 percent for this fall over fall 2017.
Additionally, counting some significant recent bequests, we have $27 million in new gifts/commitments so far this academic year. This compares to an average of $21 million per year over the last two years for the entire academic year.
Why improve residence halls as an important next step for our University?
Our Board of Trustees recognizes that attending Alfred University is not just about attaining a degree; it is about experiencing a wide of array of new things, and that includes living away from home. For many students, living in a residence hall at a college or university is the first time they have experienced the freedom–and the responsibilities–of living away from their families. Not only do quality residence halls attract students, they also help to build community and thereby ensure student retention and success.
In recent years, thanks in great measure to the generosity of the late Joel Moskowitz ’61 and his wife Ann, the University has begun making a serious investment in residence halls. We created Joel’s House, and then Ann’s House, the first ground-up new residence hall built on our campus since the 1970s. Ann, who became a member of our Board of Trustees following Joel’s death, committed to transforming the former Reimer Hall into Moskowitz Hall, demonstrating that the old corridor-style halls can be made into something different and more attractive.
Marlin Miller followed suit, refurbishing Tefft Hall in honor of Phillip Tefft ’39, who was Marlin’s mentor when he joined the Board of Trustees. Earlier this year, Marlin committed to additional funding to link Moskowitz and Tefft Halls together, creating a space that will allow us to offer innovations in residence hall programming.
But there is more to be done. That is where the challenge grant from Marlin will help by creating awareness of our needs, and generating not just some interest, but also some capital, to make our plans for further refurbishing our residence halls a reality. Marlin and fellow trustee Charlie Joyce have collectively committed a further $50,000 toward undertaking, over the coming months, a mini-campus master plan focused on residence life and intended to ensure that the benefits to our students and our University from Marlin’s latest challenge commitment will be maximized.
So, Fiat Foundations!
P.S. Should any of you alums have an interest in helping with Marlin’s challenge and renovating your old “dorm,” please email or call me at your earliest convenience!