Fiat Ongoing Faculty/Staff Dedication & Excellence

We can point to many ways in which Alfred University is “Outside of Ordinary.”

Our location: nestled in a valley amid the rolling hills and sentinel pines of Western New York— rural and beautiful; a place where students can immerse themselves in our unique maker culture. Our history of inclusivity and acceptance, traced back to our founding, which makes Alfred a place where students of all backgrounds can come to find common ground. There is also a wide array of highly-ranked programs from which our students can mix and match to chart unique, fulfilling academic journeys.

But what truly sets us apart are our people—including the faculty and staff whose dedication to our mission is evident daily.

A Celebration of Life service was held on Saturday (February 22) for Bill Dibrell—a faculty member who embodied Alfred University’s mission, values, and ideals—who passed away on February 13. Along with a number of speakers, his colleague in the Division of Human Studies, fellow philosophy professor Emrys Westacott, talked about Bill’s 37-year teaching career at Alfred—the impressions he left on faculty and the lasting impact he had on so many students. The text of Emrys’ remarks along with a video of the service are accessible through the below links.

Text of Emrys Westacott comments at Celebration of Life for Bill Dibrell

Video of Celebration of Life for Bill Dibrell

In listening to Emrys’ words, it struck me that Alfred University is Outside of Ordinary because of people like Bill Dibrell. His approach to teaching was unique and unexpected. He treated his students to a range of classes not available at just any school, inspiring them to embrace what Emrys called Bill’s “unusual intellectual curiosity.”

Bill offered classes on justice, freedom, and equality—integral components of our Social Justice minor. Among the courses Bill developed over the years were Greek Philosophy; 19th Century Philosophy; 20th Century Philosophy; Logic; 21st Century Philosophy; Theory of Knowledge; Existentialism; Nietzsche, Wittgenstein; Philosophical Psychology; Philosophical Anthropology; Colonialism in Africa; Feminist Theory; Animal Consciousness; Free Will; Personal Identity; Evolutionary Ethics; Chinese Philosophy; Women, Knowledge and Reality.

“You’re wondering what Colonialism in Africa is doing in there,” Emrys said. “Bill told me there was nothing in Alfred’s curriculum about Africa…a serious omission. So he decided to do something about it. That single initiative tells you a lot about the man.”

Some educators might go about offering such a wide variety of coursework to demonstrate the breadth of their knowledge. Not Bill. As Emrys explained, Bill’s pursuits as a teacher, rooted in humility, were aimed as much at enlightening himself as his students.

As Emrys observed: “When Bill decided to offer a new course, like the one on Africa…or the one on Chinese Philosophy, his attitude wasn’t: ‘I know a lot about this stuff and those empty student heads need to be filled with it.’ It was more like: ‘People, myself included, really ought to know more about this subject, which is inherently interesting anyway. So I’ll read up on the topic, offer a course, and we can learn together.’”

Professors like Bill Dibrell, who demonstrate the highest qualities associated with teaching, are integral to Alfred University’s magic. We are indeed fortunate to have benefitted from so many educators who share Bill’s dedication to transforming student lives and bettering our world.

Fiat Ongoing Faculty/Staff Dedication and Excellence!