Fiat Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Jane Petersen Uschold ’52

Jane Petersen Uschold’s life was defined by grit and self-sufficiency. She valued traditions, the comfort of daily routines, the joy of a good book, and the benefits of moderation.

Jane arrived on our campus in 1948, her decision to enroll here influenced in part by her father’s friendship with biology professor H.O. Burdick. As is so often the case with our alumni, Jane developed a life-long affinity for Alfred University, burnished by enduring memories of her time here.

Jane’s love for her alma mater is reflected in her Heritage Circle bequest. Jane, who passed away March 9, created an endowment to fund the Jane Petersen Uschold ’52 Professorship in the Humanities, in support of helping Alfred University to “attract and retain talented professors.”

Our provost, Beth Ann Dobie, comments: “We are thrilled to receive such a generous and inspiring gift from Jane given that the humanities are so central to educating creative thinkers who are ready to engage the world.”

Dave Toot, dean of our College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, notes: “We are genuinely touched by Jane’s marvelous philanthropic investment. It reinforces the pivotal role that the humanities faculty play—through their teaching, scholarship and service—to advancing our University’s mission.”

How did Jane’s path bring her to the point where her legacy aspiration could become reality? Through hard work—yes, grit—and a bit of good fortune. 

Jane was raised to be frugal, pragmatic, and financially independent. Soon after graduating from Alfred University with a bachelor’s degree in English and returning home, Jane’s career path intersected with that of another independent and enterprising woman, Margaret Rudkin.

When Jane was growing up in Fairfield, Connecticut, Rudkin sold bread out of her farmhouse kitchen there. By the time Jane graduated from Alfred, Rudkin had transformed her at-home bakery into a commercial business known as Pepperidge Farm. By 1961, Rudkin’s son, William, was CEO and Jane was his assistant. During her 40-plus years at Pepperidge Farm, Jane helped ensure that the company ran like her household—with efficiency and care.

Nearly seven decades after she graduated, Jane Petersen Uschold’s gift will accomplish exactly what she had hoped—ensuring that Alfred University can attract and retain talented faculty who are committed to transforming the lives of our students and thereby bettering our world.

Fiat celebrating the life and legacy of Jane Petersen Uschold ’52!