Fiat Spring Cleaning

Family weekend…hot dogs…. daffodils by Kanakadea Creek…Honors Convocation… softball….senior shows…tennis…Senior Week…lacrosse on a snowy Merrill Field…concerts in Miller Theater…bicycles…

We celebrate the arrival of spring and the ending of another academic year in many ways at our University. Some are academic events, some are athletic contests, some of them are celebratory, some of them are solemn, but they are all part of Alfred University’s DNA.

One rite of spring that is popular with both our students and the residents of the surrounding area is the annual community service day, this year called “Spring Into Action.” More than 350 students from Alfred University and Alfred State College fanned across Allegany and Steuben counties, lending a hand wherever needed. Residents and community groups requested assistance in advance, and crews were assigned.

From left: Natalie Poklop ’21, Ashlee Wilmier ’19, and Seth Steele ’19 clean up a portion of the Pine Hill Trails.

From left: Natalie Poklop ’21, Ashlee Wilmier ’19, and Seth Steele ’19 clean up a portion of the Pine Hill Trails

The help is much-appreciated by the community. As Don Jefferds, president of the Almond Woodlawn Cemetery Board, wrote in a letter to the Spectator, “Your contribution of time and energy is greatly appreciated. It has been a pleasure and an honor each spring and fall to work with the volunteers of Alfred University and Alfred State College. We are thankful for your commitment and dedication to the Almond community.”

Alfred University’s football team also participates in a community clean-up day, something that started about 20 years ago as a team-bonding exercise to bring players together off the field. It’s grown into much more, says Bob Rankl, head coach of the Alfred Saxons. “It’s team-building, but more to build a sense of service in our young men.”

And that, says Paul Vecchio, director of Athletics, goes back even further to the days of legendary Head Coach Alex Yunevich. “The thing I am most proud of is not the community service—we do great work across our department in this area—but our football players’ enthusiasm, friendliness, and the impact they make on our local community through these efforts. It continues to build on the incredible relationship that has existed—going back to Alex Yunevich’s teams—between our Saxon football team and our community. My hat is off to our entire coaching staff and team for taking such pride, and joy, in helping those in our community.”

Sharon Bouck Smith, who lives with her husband, Roger, in the Village of Alfred, was fulsome in her praise for the team members who spent several hours cleaning up her yard and garden after the winter.

As she came by my office to relay her appreciation and also wrote in a letter to the editor of The Alfred Sun, “It was such a pleasure to have the opportunity to share with you our very positive and, indeed, uplifting experience with ‘Saxon Warriors’ Justin Mosley, Russ Kohler, Nicolas Variotho, Xavier Spencer, and Joe Borrelli. I have no idea about their standing as players on the defense (first on the field, or on the bench) and, actually, I don’t want to know. As far as I am concerned they are all heroes!”

From left, Joe Borrelli ‘22, Xavier Spencer ‘22, Justin Mosley ‘18, Russ Kohler ‘20 and Variotho Nicolas ‘22 doing yard work on a football day of service

From left, Joe Borrelli ‘22, Xavier Spencer ‘22, Justin Mosley ‘18, Russ Kohler ‘20 and Variotho Nicolas ‘22

Sharon, who taught Italian in our Division of Modern Languages from 1988-94, grew up in Alfred. Her father was Warren Bouck ’49 MS, who taught English at Alfred State College for 33 years and was also dean of the School of Liberal Studies. After his retirement from Alfred State in 1981, he taught in our Division of Education. Sharon’s brother, Lynn, is a 1969 graduate of Alfred University who owned a construction company in Massachusetts for a number of years. Sharon and her husband Roger led several trips to Italy for Alfred University alumni and students over the years, so lots of connections to our University. They even have a window from our former School of Theology, which was torn down to make way for Herrick Memorial Library, in one of the buildings on their property.

Please join me in thanking all of our students who participated in the “Spring Into Action” event and/or rendered service to our community recently through other means. Their actions epitomize Alfred University’s mission, vision, and values while reflecting well on our entire Alfred University community.

Fiat Spring Cleaning!