Thanking Provost Rick Stephens/Transitions

This note is to let you know that our provost, Rick Stephens, has informed me and our faculty and staff of his decision to step down from his administrative responsibilities at Alfred University. Rick has served Alfred well during two three-year terms as our vice president of academic affairs/provost and, for the last three years, as our interim vice president of Statutory Affairs. Please join me in thanking Rick for his dedicated service to our University and wishing him well in the next chapter of his life.

While at Alfred, Rick has made many valued contributions. Among these have been:

  • Initiated collaborative discussion to develop a strategic plan.
  • Played key roles with our marketing/branding activities and in the development of our Applied/Experiential (APEX) learning program.
  • Revitalized our Summer School offerings and enrollment, and relaunched Allen Term after a hiatus of more than 30 years.
  • Led a team of our faculty and staff to secure our Middle States re-accreditation.
  • Fostered our AU-NY programming at locations beyond our main campus such as in the greater New York City area and Corning, the former in conjunction with CITE and the latter in partnership with Corning Community College.
  • Pursued articulation agreements with community colleges in our State.
  • Negotiated a new contract with SUNY for our New York State College of Ceramics and helped to secure significant additional State investment in our University including the Harder Hall renovation project, enhanced engineering faculty startup packages, and a ten-year contract renewal for our Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology.
  • Worked with a team of faculty and staff to renew the contract for our Confucius Institute with Hanban.
  • Expanded online channels to deliver our coursework, thereby making Alfred University more accessible, especially to non-traditional and non-matriculated students.
  • Reorganized the former College of Professional Studies so as to allow for the independent positioning of our College of Business which, for the first time in our history, was ranked among the top 100 business programs nationally by S. News and World Report.
  • Facilitated our efforts to launch a major and minor in data analytics as well as reinstating a major and minor in computer science.
  • Promoted the performing arts at our University and within our broader community through his support of the annual MostArts festival, faculty recruitment, and other critical reorganizational steps.
  • Engaged, along with his wife, Deb, in the greater Alfred community. Rick has been active in our cultural and athletic events ranging from Bergren Forums to football games. He and Deb are also generous Saxon Circle donors.

The impact of the foregoing contributions to our University is substantial, will be long lasting, and merit our heartfelt appreciation. We will find a time over the coming academic year where we can appropriately celebrate and thank him for his contributions.

While Rick will be retiring from his day-to-day responsibilities, he has graciously agreed to serve as an advisor to me over this new academic year so that we can benefit from his accumulated experience and expertise.

In terms of next steps for our University, I am pleased to inform you that, effective with the 2019-2020 academic year:

  • Beth Ann Dobie, dean of our College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, will serve as our interim provost.
  • David Toot, professor of Astronomy and Physics, will serve as the acting dean of our College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
  • Fred Beaudry, professor of Environmental Studies and Geology, and Mark Lewis, dean of our College of Business, will co-chair the search committee for our next provost. Beginning this fall, the committee will identify and engage a search firm to assist in conducting a national search, and will seek to bring our next provost on board by July 2020.
  • Gabrielle Gaustad, dean of our Inamori School of Engineering, has been nominated to be our next vice president of Statutory Affairs. Her nomination will be formally reviewed by the SUNY Board later in July.

Please join me in expressing gratitude to Beth Ann, Dave, Fred, Mark, and Gabby for the important responsibilities that they have agreed to shoulder on our behalf. Over the coming weeks, we will announce some added steps to ensure their impact and success in their forthcoming roles.

In closing, I ask for your help, to ensure the success of the administrative next steps outlined above, and to thank and recognize Rick Stephens for his many contributions to our University over the past six years.

Fiat Lux!