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Alumni News

Late alum’s passion, generosity live on through scholarship

Posted Date: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 - 12:30
Frank Oppedisano
Frank Oppedisano

Alfred State always meant a great deal to Frank Oppedisano.

It was there that the Honeoye Falls native was able to further his passions for learning and playing sports. As a student, he joined the Alfred Society of Refrigeration Engineers and was a member of the 1959 men’s basketball team that won the first Region III Championship in Alfred State history. Oppedisano would also frequently comment that the college provided him with the foundation that allowed him to excel in his career.

And just as Oppedisano cherished his alma mater, so too was he beloved as a longtime employee at Postler & Jaeckle Corp. out of Rochester. After he passed away in June 2015, the company literally paid tribute to Oppedisano by making a generous donation of $50,000 to the college to create the Frank Oppedisano ’60 Memorial Endowed Scholarship.

A 1960 graduate of the refrigeration program, Oppedisano worked from 1974 to 2015 at Postler & Jaeckle, a mechanical contracting company.

According to Beth Howard, principal at Postler & Jaeckle, Oppedisano’s core competency was that he was an incredibly talented mechanical engineer. This allowed him to perform various duties, including sales, estimating, project management, design-build, and value engineering.

During his tenure at the company, Oppedisano held multiple roles at the VP level, with functions ranging from engineering to construction execution. He was directly responsible for the completion of larger projects, particularly the most challenging ones, Howard said.

As stated in the scholarship’s Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), “Oppedisano was very highly regarded in the construction community in which he lived and worked. He was revered not only for his technical skill, but also for always striving to do the right thing and exceeding expectations. He had high ideals and inspired the same from those around him.”

The MOU continues, “His professionalism and care for his customers and peers are unparalleled. He left the construction industry he loved so much in a better place, having mentored so many who are now enthusiastically carrying on his vision. It is in this spirit that the Frank Oppedisano Memorial Endowed Scholarship was created.”

The first disbursement of funds for the scholarship will be in the fall of the 2017-2018 academic year. In order to be eligible, students must meet the following criteria:

The company that Oppedisano worked for and whose generosity made the scholarship possible, Postler & Jaeckle, was founded in June 1964, and continues to please customers to this day by combining the latest in mechanical systems with Old World pride in workmanship. The company focuses on construction, service, HVAC/plumbing, and fabrication in New York State and norther Pennsylvania.

According to its website, Postler & Jaeckle “established an organization that has built a solid reputation by providing craftsmanship and service second to none. They pride themselves on integrity and the level of expertise they bring to each of their projects.”

Postler & Jaeckle, the website continues, “became a leader in the field by meeting the needs of private owner, developers, environmental contractors, general contractors, and subcontractors. Their business philosophy is to do an excellent job, no matter what the size of the contract and in the most economical way possible. Integrity and quality will always be their mission statement.”

Integrity and quality are two words that can also be associated with Frank Oppedisano. With his vast amount of knowledge, Howard said, he never passed up an opportunity to help those around him grow.

“He was constantly mentoring both his coworkers and clients,” she said. “Frank was the best kind of leader in that he never shied away from asking tough questions and holding people accountable. What made him so special is that he never set out to solve others’ problems for them, but rather to guide them in developing their own solutions. He taught those around him to be critical thinkers.”

men standing in front of a truck
For more than 40 years, Alfred State alum Frank Oppedisano, middle, worked at Postler &
Jaeckle Corp., which made a $50,000 donation to the college to create a scholarship in
Oppedisano’s memory.

As for his relationships with his customers, Oppedisano was very detail-oriented and concerned himself not only with the construction phase, but also with ensuring peak performance after installation.

“He was not afraid to ask questions if he thought there might be a better way,” Howard noted. “One of the greatest feelings is achieving a level of success that enables you to help others. Frank was a great contributor to our success.”

Given that Oppedisano was not only an invaluable employee at Postler & Jaeckle, but that he constantly sought the best for his clients and always looked to bring out the best in his fellow workers, it is only fitting that the company memorialized his legacy of helping others by creating a scholarship at Alfred State. Through this, Oppedisano’s spirit of generosity will live on, as future generations of mechanical engineering technology students will be able to attend college and fulfill their dreams at the same school that meant so much to him.

“We are very appreciative of having Frank in our lives for 40-plus years,” Howard said. “He was selfless with his time in teaching others, so we thought it would be fitting to have him memorialized through a scholarship where he can continue to help others grow.”


Alfred State’s own Santa Claus to appear on national TV

Posted Date: Tuesday, December 6, 2016 - 11:45

Each holiday season, Jon Nickerson dons the famous red suit and fluffy white beard and travels all over the place, bringing happiness to countless youngsters who simply can’t wait to tell Santa what they want for Christmas.

This yuletide, Nickerson, a project manager/architectural engineering designer at Alfred State, is making a rather special appearance as Kris Kringle, one that will be seen by millions of people all across the US on Dec. 12 when they tune into ABC’s “The Great Christmas Light Fight” from 8-10 p.m.

Entering its fourth season, “The Great Christmas Light Fight” features families and neighborhoods across America who decorate their homes to the extreme for Christmas in the hopes of winning a $50,000 cash prize and the coveted “Light Fight” trophy. The show is co-hosted by Taniya Nayak, one of America’s premier designers who is known for designing many of New England’s hottest restaurants and lounges, and Carter Oosterhouse, an expert in green-building solutions and eco-friendly designs and the host of several popular shows, including HGTV’s “Million Dollar Rooms.”

Though Nickerson, a Scio native and Alfred State alum, won’t be competing on the show, his appearance was made possible by a couple of his friends who are. Twins Larry and Dennis Fields, who also hail from Scio, have competed against each other for years for the area’s most spectacular Christmas lights display.

This year, however, the brothers have pooled their resources and creativity together to decorate a house owned by Larry in Lake View. Known as the “Lake View Singing Twinsmas House,” the building features a lights show accompanied by the song “Santa And I Know It.” For more info on the house, visit https://www.facebook.com/LakeViewChristmasHouse/.

Nickerson and his wife, Melissa, who had dressed up as Mrs. Claus, took part in about 30 minutes’ worth of filming for the show. Though he is unsure which portions will actually air Dec. 12 and whether they will appear during the 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. time slot, Nickerson said, “It’s neat to be appearing on TV. If I get five seconds of air time, that’s cool, but the bigger part for me is being with the kids and seeing them. That’s what being Santa is all about.”

left to right, are Melissa Nickerson, “The Great Christmas Light Fight” co-host Carter Oosterhouse, and Jon Nickerson, who works at Alfred State as a project manager/architectural engineering designer.
L-r, are Melissa Nickerson, “The Great Christmas Light Fight”
co-host Carter Oosterhouse, and Jon Nickerson, who works at
Alfred State as a project manager/architectural engineering
designer. PHOTO COURTESY OF TRACIE MIDDLETON

Being Santa Claus is nothing new to Nickerson. He first portrayed Father Christmas as a fourth-grader in a school play, and has done so many times since.

“I’ve always been a fairly good-sized guy,” he said with a laugh.

As Santa, Nickerson has traveled to numerous venues in western New York, and even Pennsylvania, taking pictures and listening to the many present requests from children, all of whom, of course, have been good all year. He has countless stories to tell, some that are joyful, others that will tug at even the iciest of heartstrings.

But wherever he goes and whomever he meets when he puts on that red suit and white beard each Christmas season, Nickerson continues to make spirits as bright as an over-the-top holiday display.

“The kids are the best part about being Santa,” he said. “It’s all about the smiles on those kids’ faces, it’s the pictures I see people sharing on Facebook who don’t even know I was the Santa Claus, and it’s about those who don’t have a great outlook on life who maybe got an extra smile.”

Those interested in booking Nickerson as Santa for an event may reach him on the “Santa Hotline” at 585-610-8700.


Kaitlyn Brown named associate director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations

Posted Date: Wednesday, November 23, 2016 - 09:00

Kaitlyn BrownAlfred State is pleased to announce that Kaitlyn Brown has been appointed as the college’s associate director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations.

Brown, a Syracuse native who currently resides in Alfred, graduated in 2015 from Alfred State with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Her appointment to her new position was effective Aug. 11.

As the associate director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations, Brown reports to the director of Alumni Relations and works closely with the director of Annual Giving, assisting both with the advancement initiatives and projects for the college. In addition, Brown is responsible for overseeing and supporting the operations of numerous projects involving the annual fund, solicitations, alumni events, alumni chapters, and various special projects.

Serving as the development liaison, both internally and externally, Brown also assists with advancement programs that cultivate and engage alumni, business and industry, and friends who want to invest in the future of Alfred State.

Danielle White, executive director of Institutional Advancement, said, “We are thrilled to have Kaitlyn join our division. Kaitlyn is a model example of what Alfred State graduates are like - very well-prepared for her role, organized, articulate, professional, and driven for success. She is a perfect fit.”


Creating leaders of today and tomorrow at Alfred State

Posted Date: Tuesday, August 23, 2016 - 12:45

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 alumni@alfredstate.edu.

globe and numbers 73%
A recent survey of Alfred State graduates revealed 1,585 are leaders of their companies, located across the U.S.

Homecoming and Family Weekend set for Oct. 14-15

Posted Date: Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - 12:30

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 civicengagement@alfredstate.edu.

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.”

homecoming/family weekend '16 invitation, bonfire, 5k racers, students dancing


Plans for ‘MacKenzie Makeover’ unveiled

Posted Date: Thursday, May 12, 2016 - 09:30

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.”

Mach Architecture Executive VP Douglas Schaefer, near the sign, and Associate Robert Brunner, at the podium, speak during the unveiling of “MacKenzie Makeover”
Executive VP Douglas Schaefer, near the sign, and Associate Robert Brunner, at podium

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.”

Architectural renderings are available online.


Alfred State holds 32nd annual Honors Convocation

Posted Date: Tuesday, April 19, 2016 - 15:00

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.

President Dr. Skip Sullivan and Alexandra M. Argentieri 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.

View more photos of this event.


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