Fiat congratulations and thanks

Dear Alfred University students, staff, and faculty:

On Tuesday, December 14, Alfred University held its annual Holiday Luncheon for staff and faculty. At this year’s gathering, we recognized two members of our faculty—Bill LaCourse and Gary Ostrower—who between them have served our University with distinction for more than a century.

Video link for 2021 Alfred University Holiday Luncheon

Gary will retire from teaching at the conclusion of the Fall 2021 semester, while Bill retired in August. Both are institutional treasures known for their excellence in teaching and research, as well as for their commitment to Alfred University.

Gary Ostrower is a 1961 graduate of Alfred University who has been teaching history at his alma mater since 1969. During his 52 years of teaching at Alfred, Gary has been a six-time recipient of the Kruson Award for Excellence in Teaching. He served as a Fulbright Lecturer at Aarhus University in Denmark in 2005 and as president of the Society for the Study of Internationalism from 1988 to 1994.

Gary’s last Bergren Forum, earlier this Fall, provided some fascinating information about World War II.

Beyond his impact in the classroom and through his scholarship, Gary has served as an important moral conscience for our University. He has both been our long-standing ombudsperson and held various leadership positions with our Faculty Senate.

One of Gary’s contributions toward making Alfred University a better place involved his efforts to right an injustice done to one of his classmates, Warren Sutton ’61, ’17 HD. In 1960, Warren, an African-American and one of the University’s all-time greatest basketball players, was dating the white daughter of the University’s treasurer. In the face of pressure from the Alfred University administration, Warren withdrew from school. In 2016, Gary suggested that the University reach out to Warren and make amends for the injustice.

Warren would return to campus in the spring of 2017, when he received an honorary degree and addressed the graduating class at Commencement. His story was published in several regional and national media outlets. For his dedication in righting the wrong done to his classmate, Gary was presented with Alfred University’s Fiat Lux! Award in 2019. Gary said at Tuesday’s luncheon that Sutton’s return to campus is the most memorable moment of his 55-plus years at Alfred as a student and then faculty member.

Warren Sutton story in the Philadelphia Inquirer

“It’s been a great ride,” Gary said of his teaching career at his alma mater. “It’s been an honor and privilege to serve this University.”

From left: Bill LaCourse, yours truly, and Gary Ostrower ’61

Bill LaCourse came to Alfred University 51 years ago after earning a doctorate in materials engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Bill will be remembered for his contributions to making our Glass Engineering Science program one of the most well-known and successful in the United States and around the world.

Bill arrived in Alfred in 1970, recruited here by L. David Pye ’59, ’68 PhD, then chair of the Department of Glass Science. Dave, Bill, and Harrie Stevens ’65, who had been appointed professor of glass science in 1969, were known then as “The Three Amigos,” a trio renowned in their field as educators and researchers who would help lead a resurgence in the glass program at Alfred in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Today, the Glass Engineering Science program in Alfred University’s Inamori School of Engineering is renowned worldwide,and is the only such program in the United States to offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Bill’s role in elevating our program’s standing in the world of glass science cannot be overstated. A Fellow of the American Ceramic Society, he is a past winner of the ACerS Glass Division Morey Award for Research on Glass as well as the SUNY Award for Research. To recognize Bill’s dedication to the Glass Engineering Science program, David Pye presented him with the inaugural King Alfred the Great Award in August. The Award was established to create “a greater appreciation of Outside of Ordinary.”

Notwithstanding his official retirement, Bill remains active in the lab, working with faculty and students alike. “I still love working with glass,” he said at Tuesday’s luncheon. “To see how the glass program has grown over the years is just amazing.”

Please join me in congratulating Gary Ostrower and Bill LaCourse for all they have achieved in their careers. Please also join me in thanking them for their manifold and impactful contributions to Alfred University.

Fiat congratulations and thanks!