Fiat Memories and Investing in Alfred University’s Future!

What a marvelous Reunion we had this year! It seems our gatherings just keep improving, from the arrival of our Saxon bike crew and the Makers on Main Street demonstrations on Friday, to the farewells on Sunday, and all of the memorable moments in between.

One of the Reunion highlights was celebrating Dr. Gary Ostrower ’61 and his 50 years of teaching at Alfred University. Tributes from alumni, colleagues, friends, and family underscored what a truly remarkable human being Gary is, and most of all, what a gifted teacher he is. We are so fortunate to have had him as a faculty member for the past half century. Gary’s goal has always been to instill a love of history, foster critical thinking, and better the reading and writing skills for the more than 9,000 undergraduates who have been in his classes over the past 50 years.

Another highlight was the renewal of wedding vows by couples who met at Alfred University and married. We didn’t know what to expect when Alumni Relations proposed this idea, so it was gratifying—and heart-warming—to have 45 couples gather in the Turner Gallery for the ceremony. That was more than twice as many as we had hoped would participate when the idea was first broached.

Vow Renewal Celebration at Reunion 2019

Of course, it was also a lesson for me to pay more attention to the fine print in the “other duties as assigned” portion of my contract!  Somehow, I found myself not just officiating at the renewal ceremony, but also decked out in a purple tunic and gold clerical collar, courtesy of Jason Amore ’97, ’99 MS, and his University Advancement crew!

All joking aside, it was truly an honor to be able to share in the renewed joy of those couples who began here at Alfred University.

President Zupan in a purple tunic and gold cleric collar at the Vow Renwal Ceremony during Reunion 2019

On Sunday, just before a crowd of happy Reunion attendees headed for home, we had a more somber, but beautiful ceremony remembering alumni and friends who are no longer with us. To keep their memories ever in our hearts, we created a Memory Garden near Alumni Hall, where older alumni remember gathering for Western Civilization (Yes, taught by Gary Ostrower!). The ceremony was so moving that we decided to continue the Garden and ceremony going forward, expanding the plantings each year in memory of Alfred University family members who are no longer with us.

Another memory—not from Reunion, but from the archives, courtesy of Laurie Lounsberry McFadden ’91, our archivist, involves a letter from Melvil Dewey, whose name lives on as the creator of the Dewey Decimal System by which library collections have been organized for decades. Melvil Dewey spent three months at Alfred University in the late-1800s, and went on to become the librarian of the University of the State of New York.

In 1900, when Alfred University President Boothe Colwell Davis was appealing to Andrew Carnegie for $25,000 to build a library for our University, Dewey offered a letter of support for the application, writing to Mr. Carnegie that Alfred University was “one of the best small colleges.”

He continued, “I can say truthfully that I know of no other place where a person could receive a larger return for each $1,000 put at their disposal, than this same small college at Alfred.” He added that as the State University librarian, he is frequently asked for letters of support, and generally preserves a “discreet silence” in response to the requests. But he offered his support for Alfred University’s appeal saying “They do so much for the cause of education with a dollar in Alfred than some institutions do with three or five.”

I firmly believe that the same holds true today and that we continue to generate significant returns, in terms of transforming student lives and bettering our world, for those of you who invest in our University through your gifts to our Alfred Fund. With this in mind, please remember our Alfred Fund as the academic year comes to a close.

Thanks to Marlin Miller ’54, ’89 HD, ’19 HD, and an anonymous benefactor, we have been able to establish a $100,000 challenge that will match on a dollar-for-dollar basis any incremental gifts to the Alfred Fund or new or incremental Saxon Circle commitments ($1,000 is the annual threshold giving level for the Saxon Circle for alums at least 10 years out—there is a lower rate for students and young alums—a fitting coincidence with the sum referred by Melvil Dewey in his appeal to Andrew Carnegie) made before June 30.

Fiat Memories and Investing in Alfred University’s Future!