Alfred University

One Saxon Drive 
Alfred NY 14802 

(607) 871-2111

Alfred University

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Alfred University
Steinheim Building at Alfred University.jpg
The Steinheim Building (“the castle”) houses the Career Development Center.
Motto Fiat Lux (Latin)
Motto in English "Let there be Light"
Established 1836
Type Private, and
statutory college[1]
Endowment $89.7 million[2]
President Charles M. Edmonson[3]
Academic staff 164
Students 2,300[4]
Undergraduates approx. 2,000[4]
Postgraduates approx. 300[4]
Location Alfred, NY, United States
42°15'20?N 77°47'15.1?W? / ?42.25556°N 77.787528°W? / 42.25556; -77.787528Coordinates: 42°15'20?N 77°47'15.1?W? / ?42.25556°N 77.787528°W? / 42.25556; -77.787528
Campus Rural, 232 acres (0.9 km²), plus another 400 acres (1.6 km2) of nearby recreational land
Colors Purple and Gold
Athletics 22 teams
Mascot Saxon

Alfred University is a small, comprehensive university in the Village of Alfred in Western New York, USA, south of Rochester and southeast of Buffalo. Alfred has an undergraduate population of around 2,000, and approximately 300 graduate students. Though the institution has five separate schools and colleges, the institution's reputation is grounded in the arts and engineering.[citation needed]


Alfred was founded in 1836 as the Select School by Seventh Day Baptists as a non-sectarian institution.[5] Unusual for the time, the school was co-educational. It was also racially integrated, and enrolled its first African-American student and two Native American students in the 1850s, becoming the second college in the nation to do so.

The origin of the name "Alfred" is uncertain. Residents of the town and students at the two schools believe that the town received its name in honor of Alfred the Great, king of the Saxons, although the first documented occurrence of this connection was in 1881, 73 years after the first record of the name being used to describe the geophysical area during assignments by the state legislature. State records which might have verified the connection between the Saxon king and the university were lost in a fire in 1911.[6] Regardless of whether the connection is historically accurate, Alfred University has embraced King Alfred as a symbol of the school's values, and a statue of the king stands in the center of the campus quad.

Since its founding, Alfred University has hosted guest lecturers, artists and musicians from Ralph Waldo Emerson[7] to Ghostface Killah.[8] In April 2000, Alfred University received national attention when freshman, Eric Zuckerman, orchestrated a campus visit from then First Lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton, during her campaign for the United States Senate.[9]

Alfred University, together with Corning Incorporated and the State of New York created the Ceramic Corridor, a high-tech incubator project designed to take advantage of the emerging ceramics industry and to create new jobs. This unique industrial development program is the only one in the United States concentrating on one single aspect of technology – high-tech ceramics – and it is the only major industrial development project centered in a rural area in the U.S.

Aerial view of Alfred University taken in April 2006

Extending to the 20th and 21st centuries, Alfred has continued its progressive history of defending equal rights for members of the community. In 1971, Alfred became only the 4th municipality in the U.S. to ban employment discrimination based on sexuality. In the mid-1990s, the university became one of the first to strip credit for ROTC programs, which exhibit prejudice on basis of sexual orientation. However, students attending Alfred University are still free to receive an Army ROTC contract with full tuition paid and attend military science classes through St. Bonaventure University. Amidst the dissolution of the AU Greek System, the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity chapter at Alfred University led an overwhelmingly successful effort to ban discrimination based on religion, age, disability, and sexual orientation in the constitution of the 210 chapter international fraternity in 2002.[10] That action triggered several other national fraternities and sororities to follow suit.


Originally built in 1884, Kanakadea Hall served as Alfred's schoolhouse until a large fire destroyed the tower and devastated the second floor in 1907. It was sold to Alfred University and repaired in 1908. The exterior has since been restored to its original appearance, although the interior has been fully modernized. The building now houses the Division of Human Studies.[11]
The statue of King Alfred stands at the center of AU's quad, and is often decorated by students. In this picture, he is wearing one of the purple shirts worn by student Orientation Guides (OGs) during the 2006 freshman orientation.
Main Street and part of AU during Hot Dog Day

Alfred University is not to be confused with the SUNY College of Technology at Alfred. Although completely autonomous, both institutions have their origins in the Alfred Select School, and were heavily shaped by Boothe C. Davis. In 1908 Davis petitioned the NY State legislature to fund the NY State College of Agriculture at Alfred University.

In 1941 Alfred State College became an autonomous Junior College due to increased enrollment and increasing needs, which Alfred University could not accommodate, and in 1948 became a member of the State University of New York (SUNY) system. Students of both schools still share a few Alfred peculiarities including: a physical education requirement for most programs, a short break in October dubbed "minibreak", sharing of clubs and organizations (excluding Greek lettered organizations), and cross-registration of classes not offered at the other institution.

The school's mascot is the Saxon, a knight in shining armor. Since the year 871 is when King Alfred the Great succeeded his brother, Ethelred I as King of Wessex and Mercia (see Alfred the Great's childhood), the phone exchange of Alfred University is 871 (i.e., all AU phone numbers take the form 1-607-871-xxxx).

Hot Dog Day is held in early April of each year since 1972 at Alfred to raise money for local charities and community-based civic organizations. It is a joint project with Alfred State College coordinated by students and staff from both schools. Typical events include a carnival, small amusement park rides, mud olympics, concerts, a parade, and the consumption of hot dogs. In recent years approximately $7,000 to $8,000 has been raised for charities including the local fire departments, public library, and day care centers.

Alfred's Davis Memorial Carillon, erected in 1937 as a tribute to longtime president Boothe C. Davis, can often be heard while on campus. The bells of the carillon, purchased from Antwerp, were thought to be the oldest bells in the western hemisphere. Research later (2004) showed that the bells were of a more recent vintage, and that Alfred had been the victim of a fraud. On the brighter side, the non-historic nature of the bells allows the university to replace those that have poor tonal quality. Concerts continue four times a week when school is in session (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 12:30 pm and Saturday at 4 pm), and during the summer months at least once a week. Besides the resident carilloneur, guest carilloneurs have in the past frequently visited and played during the summer.

The Black Knight[12] has been a part of Alfred University folklore for a long time. The relic was originally part of a parlor stove in a classroom in Kanakadea Hall. When the stove was discarded, the figure was claimed by the Class of 1908 as their mascot. They passed it on to the Class of 1910, thus causing a "war of possession" between the even and odd numbered classes. Many times over the years it disappeared and re-appeared on campus. After a particularly long time away it was returned in 1977 and placed in the University Archives. In 2005 it was transferred to a glass case in the Powell Campus Center along with a plaque describing its history. Many students had heard of the Black Knight during their freshmen orientation and were delighted to have him on display. However, after only a few months, the glass enclosure was destroyed in the middle of the night and the Black Knight stolen.

Alfred University was mentioned on Saturday Night Live once in 1975 by host and Alfred University alumnus Robert Klein.[13] When Klein hosted SNL again in 1977, he talked at length about Alfred University in his monologue.[14]


The Miller Performing Arts Center
The Powell Campus Center

Alfred is especially well known for its programs in ceramic art, ceramic engineering, glass engineering, and has a strong astronomy program due in part to the presence on campus of the 7-telescope Stull Observatory, which has one of the largest optical telescope in New York state.[15] Asteroid 31113 Stull was named for John Stull, founder and caretaker of the observatory.

There are two libraries on Alfred's campus, the Herrick Memorial Library, which primarily serves the private colleges, and the Scholes Library, which primarily serves the New York State College of Ceramics. The Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art has a collection of 8,000 ceramic objects, including both ancient and modern ceramic art and craft.

The Bromley-Daggett Equestrian Center, located at the Maris Cuneo Equine Park, was constructed in 2005. It hosts equine classes, an intramural equestrian club, varsity and JV teams for both English and Western disciplines, clinics, and horse shows. Stalls are available for boarding by university students. The facility has an indoor arena of 16000 ft² and lighted outdoor arenas of 28,800 sq ft (2,680 m2) and 10,800 sq ft (1,000 m2); the entire property consists of 400 acres (1.6 km2) of land.

The Miller Performing Arts Center was dedicated in 1995.[16]

Alumni Hall

Alumni Hall

Now used primarily to house the Admissions Department, Alumni Hall has a place on the National Register of Historic Places. The former University academy building, with cathedral ceilings, and offices far up into the cupola is a beautiful example of 19th-century American architecture in Alfred. In the 1990s, Alumni Hall was saved through a restoration effort. Alfred University was once associated with the Seventh Day Baptist Church, and included a school of theology. While the religious connection no longer exists, the architecture of Alumni Hall and other buildings on campus reflect this heritage.

Colleges and schools

Alfred University offers over 60 majors and areas of concentration at its four colleges and schools. Alfred's four private colleges are The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, The College of Business, The Inamori School of Engineering, and The Graduate School.

The New York State College of Ceramics (NYSCC) consists of the School of Art and Design, with its own dean, and four state-supported materials programs cross-organized within Alfred University's School of Engineering. The College of Ceramics is functioning technically as a "holding entity" (currently with an interim unit head) for the fiscal support of the state programs and the NYSCC mission. The unit head assists with budget preparation for the two aforementioned AU schools and the NYSCC-affiliated Scholes Library of Ceramics (part of the campuswide, unified AU library system), and acts in a liaison role to SUNY.

The School of Art and Design, technically a subunit of the College of Ceramics but autonomously run with its own dean, is further subdivided into divisions. A visit to the school in 2009 led media historian Siegfried Zielinski to state that Alfred is "the center of alchemy for the 21st century."[17] Alfred's School of Engineering (also autonomously run with its own dean) currently has four state-supported programs and two privately endowed programs.

On April 14, 2005, the University announced it had received a gift of $35 million from alumnus Marlin Miller '54, and his wife, Ginger, to further support arts education.[citation needed] The gift is the largest ever in the university's history and is one of the largest endowment gifts made to a U.S. institution to support arts education.[citation needed] Ten million dollars is earmarked for a new theatre at the Miller Performing Arts Center, previously funded by the Millers, and $25 million will go towards the endowment.[citation needed]

Student life

Greek social organizations

Fraternities and sororities were established at Alfred University for nearly 100 years prior to 2002, when they were discontinued, partially in response to the death of Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) fraternity member Benjamin Klein under suspicious circumstances and charges of gross negligence on behalf of the fraternity.[18][19]

Prior to Klein's death, in 1978, student Chuck Stenzel died in a hazing-related incident at Alfred's Klan Alpine fraternity. After Stenzel's death, his mother, Eileen Stevens, created a lobbying organization to increase awareness of hazing and promote anti-hazing laws, as documented in Hank Nuwer's book "Broken Pledges" and a later TV movie of the same name (in which Alfred was not named for legal reasons). Stevens later served as an advisor to Alfred on hazing-related issues, and received an honorary doctorate from the school in 1999.

During the summer of 2002, all Greek social organizations lost recognition after an in-depth analysis of the Alfred University Greek system by an eight-member task force appointed by the Board of Trustees. More than 50% of the task force were themselves members of a fraternity or sorority while in college, and 82% of the Board of Trustees are Alfred University alumni.[19]

At the time of closing in 2002, the Greek system at Alfred University included national and international fraternities Lambda Chi Alpha, since 1909, Sigma Alpha Mu, Kappa Sigma, Alpha Chi Rho, Delta Sigma Phi, and Zeta Beta Tau; as well as local fraternities Kappa Psi Upsilon, and Klan Alpine. The sororities included Delta Zeta, Theta Theta Chi, Alpha Kappa Omicron, and Sigma Chi Nu. The overall Greek community made significant contributions to Alfred University, Alfred, NY, and the surrounding communities, such as annual food drives that raised more than 2,000 lb (910 kg) of food each fall for the Hornell food bank. Many of the societies have highly active alumni associations, some of which gather at Alfred University reunions, or at independent functions.

Other organizations

Alpha Phi Omega is still recognized, as are academic fraternities, because they do not fall under the same category of restrictions as social fraternities. As of 2010, Alfred has over 90 student organizations and clubs.[20] Student media include: AU TV, the Kanakadea Yearbook, and WALF 89.7FM.[20]

AU has been granted chapters of a number of honor societies, including Phi Beta Kappa (the Alpha Gamma chapter of New York, granted in 2004[21]), Phi Kappa Phi, and Alpha Lambda Delta; Alfred also has chapters of the service societies Alpha Phi Omega and Omicron Delta Kappa. Other honor societies include Alpha Iota Delta, Beta Gamma Sigma, Delta Mu Delta, Omicron Delta Epsilon, Pi Gamma Mu, Pi Mu Epsilon (the Alpha Iota chapter of New York, chartered in 2002[22]), Pi Sigma Alpha, Sigma Tau Delta, Tau Beta Pi, Phi Alpha Theta, Phi Sigma Iota, Psi Chi, Keramos, and the Financial Management Association.[23]


Alfred teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Saxons are a member of the Empire 8 Athletic Conference (Empire 8). They compete in the following sports: alpine skiing, basketball, cross country, football, lacrosse, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, and track and field, women's volleyball, and women's softball. Alfred also has an extensive co-educational equestrian program.[24]

Notable alumni and faculty

Notable alumni include:
In art:

In politics and law:

In literature and literary arts:

In science and technology:

In entertainment:

In business:

Notable faculty and staff include:

  • Artist Robert C. Turner, an influential ceramics artist and teacher who founded the ceramics program at Black Mountain College. Along with Val Cushing, Wayne Higby, and Daniel Rhodes, Turner was a key member of the Alfred ceramics faculty in the 50's-70's, which is considered by some to be the "golden age" of the Alfred ceramics program.[citation needed]
  • Artist Wayne Higby, considered to be one of the defining ceramic artists of the 80's. Known for his work in Raku ceramics, Higby attained considerable attention with his large bowl forms that toyed with the notion of vessel and landscape imagery.[citation needed]
  • Poet Ben Howard, author of six books of poetry.[46]
  • Graphic Designer Rudolph de Harak, 1992 AIGA Medealist
  • Coach Alexander (Alex) Joseph Yunevich, head football coach from 1937 to 1941 and 1946 to 1976, posting a 177-85-12 record with six undefeated seasons.[47]

Sources: Google Maps, The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Wikipedia, Yahoo! Answers

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