With a new school year getting underway, Alfred State students will soon become involved in activities, further their hands-on education, and find opportunities to hone leadership skills that prove valuable later in life. These type of experiences can have a profound impact on students, as thousands of the college’s graduates have risen to the top of their company, as owner, president, director, CEO, or a similar position.
These alums’ businesses are spread out all over the country, from Massachusetts, to Florida, and as far west as Hawaii. Their concentrations range from auto parts and service, to auctioneering, to carpentry, to court reporting, and much, much more.
Nearly 1,600 alums who are business chiefs have stayed in constant contact with Alfred State’s Alumni Relations Office. Out of those:
The college has been honored to host many of these civic leaders on campus to award them with honorary degrees, including:
John Coughlin, a 1978 graduate of the heavy equipment maintenance technology/ technician program, is now the president and CEO of the Linder Industrial Machinery Company based out of Plant City, FL. Coughlin remembers fondly how his professors prepared him.
“They helped you identify your strengths, insisted that you talk to the class about what you had discovered, and prepared you for public speaking and things that you don’t recognize the importance of when they’re putting you through it,” he said.
Long before they became heads of their own companies, however, these alums and many others started out as first-year Pioneers. Though these graduates may have taken different paths, the common thread that ties all these stories together is Alfred State.
“These alums who have risen to the top of their profession are not only an inspiration, but are also an example of the high quality of education and experiences that all Pioneers receive,” said President Dr. Skip Sullivan. “Many of our graduates say Alfred State helped provide a solid base for their future and played a key role in getting them to where they are today. I am extremely proud of all our alumni, students, faculty, and staff, and tremendously gratified to know that our college is making a difference in so many lives and in the world we live in.”
Alums are always encouraged to let the college know about their careers and to keep in communication with Alumni Relations. To contact the office, call 607-587-3930 or email email@example.com.
From basketball at midnight, to a family-friendly comedian and hypnotist, to celebrating a brand-new facility on the Wellsville campus, Alfred State has plenty in store for Pioneers and their families during this year’s Homecoming and Family Weekend Oct. 14-15.
Colleen Argentieri, director of Alumni Relations and co-chair of the Homecoming/Family Weekend Committee, said, “Alfred State is excited to once again bring together Pioneers of all ages and their families for Homecoming and Family Weekend. We have a number of exciting events planned, and look forward to another terrific year of fun and fellowship as we celebrate our college.”
The festivities will begin at 3 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14 with a tour of the new $5 million Sustainable Advanced Manufacturing Center as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Wellsville campus. The center, which opens for the first time this fall, will house freshman and senior welding students and senior machine tool technology students, and includes classrooms, a computer lab, a welding fabrication shop, material handling and preparation space, a CNC machine shop, and metrology and inspection space.
Back on the Alfred campus later Friday night will be a spirit rally and bonfire at 7 p.m. at Pioneer Stadium. This will include a car smash, games, carnival food, and prizes, and will be followed by fireworks at 9 p.m.
The fireworks won’t be the only dazzling display taking place that evening, as musicians, poets, dancers, and more take the stage at 9:30 p.m. in the Cappadonia Auditorium in the Orvis Activities Center for the annual Alfred’s Got Talent show.
Friday’s fun will conclude with Pioneer Basketball Midnight Madness, taking place at midnight at the gymnasium in the Orvis Activities Center. Midnight Madness will introduce the college community to the 2016-17 men’s and women’s basketball teams, which will compete in various contests before battling in a scrimmage. Fans will also have the chance to get in on the action with the opportunity to take part in contests during the events.
On Saturday, Oct. 15, the sixth annual Race for a Cure 5K Run/Walk will begin at 9 a.m. at 10 Elm on the Alfred campus. The $15 registration fee will benefit Roswell Park Cancer Institute. To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another Saturday staple of Homecoming/Family Weekend is the football game. At 11 a.m. at Pioneer Stadium will be a Greek tailgate, chili cook-off, and car show, followed by the big game at 1 p.m., with the Pioneers taking on the Buffalo State Bengals. Spectators 21 and older will be able to watch the game from the End Zone Club at the stadium.
Following the game and rounding out the day will be family-friendly comedian, hypnotist, and mentalist Eric Mina at approximately 4 p.m. Saturday in the Cappadonia Auditorium. His biography on his website states, “Whether it’s playing mind tricks in Australia, reading thoughts in Las Vegas, or performing comedy hypnosis in Times Square, Eric’s understanding of the human mind astounds audiences worldwide. His show is a side-splitting, mind-boggling event that will leave you believing your dreams are possible. Eric’s presence is all encompassing, and his powers are real.”
Mallory Morehouse, coordinator of Orientation and Family Programs and co-chair of the Homecoming and Family Weekend Committee, noted that in addition to having plenty to do that weekend, the scenic beauty of Alfred is another reason for fellow Pioneers to take part in the fun.
“Homecoming and Family Weekend is such a great time to visit campus,” she said. “There are so many events, the weather is crisp, and the leaves are turning. This makes the most beautiful backdrop on a weekend full of family and fun.”
When Alfred State determined that the largest residence hall on campus, the MacKenzie Complex, was due for a makeover, the design came from a very fitting source: architects who not only attended the college, but also lived in MacKenzie themselves. Their personal experiences offer a unique insight into what should be done to transform the residence hall to meet the needs of students both today and tomorrow.
“It adds a lot of excitement to my role in getting this accomplished,” said Mach Architecture Executive Vice President Douglas Schaefer, a 1985 architectural technology graduate. “It’s also a giving back to the college. As an architect, everything I do affects somebody’s life down the road with those spaces I build. Now, with MacKenzie, I know who it’s affecting.”
Schaefer along with Mach Architecture Associate Robert Brunner, a 2008 architectural technology graduate, recently unveiled plans dubbed the “MacKenzie Makeover” to a crowd of students, faculty, and staff.
Schaefer explained how the first phase of the project will involve renovating the East Tower to create a new entrance and gathering spaces for students on each floor, while reinventing the Central Quad to create an attractive core for the 1,200-student residence hall that is warm, welcoming, and feels like an extension of one’s own home. The quad’s design includes a 35-foot-tall atrium with the light illuminating natural surfaces of rock and wood throughout.
When compared to other residence halls across the state, MacKenzie will be in a class all of its own. Eric Gerken, Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) design manager, said that beginning in the fall of 2016 and continuing over the next several years, “this phased project will reconstruct MacKenzie into the largest, most modern dorm across the SUNY system.”
Gregory Sammons, vice president for Student Affairs, added that the goal of the renovation is to make the college’s largest residence hall the first choice for students. And Dr. Skip Sullivan, president of the college, stated, “Today certainly serves as a reaffirmation of our commitment to continuously advance our campus. The desire to continue to improve certainly is based on a single focus and that is making the experience even greater for our students.”
Talking about the next steps in the process, Glenn Brubaker, director of Facilities Operations, said, “As this project goes out for bids, we can get this off the ground this fall, with the construction fences up and the construction zone established when students return.”
“We are optimistic that this project will make MacKenzie the hub of a vibrant living community on campus and we look forward to moving ahead,” stated Matt Ryan, senior director of Residential Services, as he noted that MacKenzie will remain open for business during the construction.
Dave Sengstock, executive director of Auxiliary Campus Enterprises and Services, Inc. (ACES), talked about changes due to the closure of MacKenzie’s Exit West Café, stating, “In response, we will be extending the hours of operation for dining facilities all across campus with nighttime offerings, and introducing a new food truck to serve the Alfred State campuses and in particular the area surrounding MacKenzie.”
During construction, a central laundry in the quad will be replaced with multiple smaller laundry areas and vending options closer to the residents’ rooms. Then when the reinvented central quad opens, students will gain new amenities, including a large laundry, dining services, and a fitness center.
Brunner said it is “almost breathtaking” to be a part of this massive project. He said having an inside knowledge from their student years has definitely given him and Schaefer an edge with helping to create the new design because they understood MacKenzie.
“It’s great having that inside knowledge of the building and being able to work on it and make it better,” Brunner said. “It’s architecture at its best.”
Alfred State celebrated the achievements of more than 370 students during the 32nd annual Honors Convocation held Sunday, April 17, with Dr. Kristin Poppo, provost, presiding over the event, and SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor of Mathematics and Physics Lawrence E. Burns serving as grand marshal.
The Alfred State Concert Band played the academic processional to open the ceremony, which was followed by the singing of the national anthem by the Alfred State Men’s Quartet. Larry Greil, adviser of Hillel at Alfred, gave the invocation.
Following the welcome by President Dr. Skip Sullivan and the provost’s remarks, Dean’s Awards for Academic Excellence were presented by the deans of the three schools, Ana McClanahan (School of Applied Technology), Dr. John Williams (School of Architecture, Management, and Engineering Technology), and Dr. Robert Curry (School of Arts and Sciences). The recipients of the awards were Aaron Aumick, building trades: building construction, Port Jervis; Sarah Jastrzab, applications software development, North Tonawanda; and Vivian Rohe, nursing, Freedom, respectively. The deans later handed out the Student Awards for Excellence.
Receiving the Provost’s Award for Academic Excellence was Fred Dumond, construction management engineering technology, Liberty. Gregory Sammons, vice president for Student Affairs, recognized Katelynn Andera, forensic science technology, Ellicottville; and Anna Campbell, technology management, Geneseo, as the Chancellor’s Awards for Student Excellence recipients. Sammons later presented Travis Armison, instructional support assistant in the Agriculture and Veterinary Technology Department, with the Freshman Advocate Award.
Patricia K. Fogarty, chair of the College Council presented the Leadership through Civic Engagement Award to Karla Chun, forensic science technology, Broadalbin; and Chevon Phillip, applications software development, Brooklyn. Receiving the Newman Civic Fellows Award from Fogarty was Kemar Kidd, business administration, Bronx.
Sullivan presented the Distinguished Alumni and Outstanding Young Alumni Awards to 1985 graduate Thomas Blackwell (chemical technology) and 2011 grad and Hornell resident Alexandra M. Argentieri (liberal arts and sciences: social science).
Christopher Yarnal, director of Campus Ministry at St. Jude’s Chapel, gave the benediction, and the Alfred State Concert Band played the academic recessional to close out the ceremony.
In photo: President Dr. Skip Sullivan presents Alexandra M. Argentieri, '11 with the Outstanding Young Alumni Award.
Alfred State will present its 65th annual Alumni Choral Spring Concert at 2 p.m. Sunday, April 24 in the Anthony C. Cappadonia Auditorium in the Orvis Activities Center on the Alfred campus.
Groups performing will include the Alumni Jazz Singers, ’87 Collegiate Quartet, AAA (Anthony’s A cappella Alliance) and the Alumni Choir. The concert is free and open to the public.
The Alfred State Concert Choir Alumni organization was founded in 1957 and consists of alumni who performed under the direction of Anthony C. Cappadonia, during his 56-year tenure as both instrumental and choral director at Alfred State. On April 29, 2012, the Anthony C. Cappadonia Auditorium was officially dedicated. It will forever be a testament to the musical inspiration Cappadonia provided to his students.
He continued to direct the alumni groups until his passing in February 2014. Alumni from all over the country return to campus to perform this annual concert in his honor.
The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC, has listed Alfred State in a recent report as the top two-year or lower college whose alumni possess the most valuable skills.
The report, “Beyond College Rankings: A Value-Added Approach to Assessing Two- and Four-Year Schools,” determined that the value of Alfred State alumni skills is $69,219, which is more than $9,500 greater than the average value of alumni skills at all two-year or lower colleges, $59,664.
Dr. Jonathan Rothwell, a fellow at the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, said the institution obtained a list of the 25 most commonly listed skills on LinkedIn resumes for roughly 2,500 colleges, then evaluated those skills by matching them to those advertised on millions of online job vacancies posts, in which the vacancy had included both a skill and a salary.
“High-value alumni skills, like those listed by Alfred State alumni, are those associated with high average salaries,” Rothwell said.
The significance of Alfred State’s top ranking, according to Rothwell, is that it implies that the content of what is taught at the college either directly provides skills highly valued in the labor market or prepares students to acquire those skills after leaving Alfred State.
“The fact that Alfred State ranks at the top suggests that its teachers instill the most valuable skills in the country, relative to all other two-year colleges,” he said.
The value of alumni skills, Rothwell said, was one of the most important predictors of strong performance on the three alumni economic outcomes that Brookings measured: mid-career salaries, loan repayment rates, and occupational earnings power.
“Notably, alumni skills not only predict better outcomes for alumni, they predict higher value-added performance,” Rothwell said. “That is to say, that even after controlling for student characteristics — like test scores and family income — higher value skills predict greater success. Alfred State scored in the top 2 percent and top 9 percent of all colleges on value-added contribution to occupational earnings power and loan repayment.”
Alfred State President Dr. Skip Sullivan said, “I am extremely pleased about Alfred State’s top ranking in the Brookings Institution’s report. This ranking is a testament to the high-quality education our students receive here and I could not be more proud of our students, alumni, faculty, and staff.”
Dr. James Gregory Ferry, chaired professor of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn State, will serve as the speaker for Alfred State’s 104th Commencement on May 17.
Ferry is a fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and past editor of the Journal of Bacteriology. He has served on numerous national committees and currently is co-chair of the Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Science that advises the federal government on matters of space exploration.
A former member of Alfred State’s undefeated wrestling team, Ferry received his AAS degree in agronomy from Alfred State in 1963, followed by BS and MS degrees from the University of Georgia. He continued his education at the University of Illinois, where he earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1974.
Ferry was appointed assistant professor of microbiology at Virginia Tech in 1976 and rose to the rank of professor. In 1995, he moved to Penn State to accept an endowed chair in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He has authored more than 200 scientific publications.
The one thing that hasn't changed viscerally at Alfred State, said Ferry, is the culture; faculty are here because they want to teach students and foster their full potentials. Ferry recently created the James G. and Marilyn A. Ferry Endowed Scholarship to assist students with a strong desire to learn and who have the need for financial assistance.
He and Mrs. Ferry are high school sweethearts who have been married 49 years. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.