Fiat Gratitude & Giving

Thanksgiving is a fitting occasion for us to express gratitude for our blessings and reflect on what is genuinely important in our lives: families and friends; homes and communities; good health; happiness; educational opportunities; gainful employment; and so on.

Blessings can also come when we least expect them, borne of simple good fortune. This was evident in two recent events.

The first involved a chance meeting between two of our students, Zach Leinenbach ’22 and Spencer Chaput ‘22, and an alumna, Sheila Foreman ’99, ’03 MS. While out for a walk, Sheila saw Zach and Spencer lifting weights on a Pine Hill Drive playground near her Alfred home. The young men were using a few assorted weights and a bench that Spencer had made by hand.

Sheila’s late son, Tommy, who passed away in July, was himself an avid lifter, and his weight set was still in Sheila’s garage. She stopped to talk to Zach and Spencer, and offered them her son’s weights. Grateful for the gift, they offered to come to her home and rake the leaves from her yard. A friendship between our two students and Sheila was formed (Alfred University alumna, students make each other’s day with good deeds).

More recently, a podcast on NPR’s Planet Money featured Travis Mattison, a turkey farmer in Brockport, New York. Travis, owner of Ridgecrest Turkey Farms, talked about how his sales had been struggling due to COVID.

An hour after hearing the podcast, an email arrived from Giovina Lloyd ’96, ’97 MS, our vice president of Business and Finance, coincidentally suggesting we consider purchasing turkeys and hams for our employees as a holiday gift in lieu of our traditional employee holiday luncheon. When our trustees learned of Giovina’s suggestion, they generously offered to underwrite the purchase of turkeys from Ridgecrest Farms and give them to our employees as a small token of appreciation for their hard work that resulted in keeping our campus open throughout the Fall semester. In turn, Travis agreed to sell us 150 turkeys at a discounted rate.

On behalf of our Board of Trustees, we were able to buy Travis’ turkeys, as well as additional turkeys, hams, and a vegan option for all of our full-time employees.

In the end, serendipity and the generosity of our Board allowed us to both help a farmer who was facing a challenging situation and do something nice for our dedicated employees (see Randy Gorbman on WXXI, Ariel Salk on WETM-TV, Elmira, and Rochester Democrat and Chronicle for more details). 

As we have now reached the finish line of our Fall semester, please accept my sincere gratitude for all that you have collectively done to ensure that our University remained open for in-person classes while promoting the health and well-being of our community. Your resourcefulness, resilience, and resoluteness allowed us to Protect the Lux.

President Zupan crosses the finish line

At this time of Thanksgiving, let us keep in mind Thornton Wilder’s observation that “We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” For all those in our Alfred University community, including our Board, who have contributed to creating such treasures, Thank you! As Anne Frank so eloquently put, “No one ever became poor by giving.”

Fiat gratitude and giving!