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By Craig Braack

Alfred University holds Opening Breakfast marking start of 187th academic year

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View video of President Mark Zupan’s opening remarks

Alfred University held its Opening Breakfast Tuesday morning, marking the start of the University’s 187th year. Classes for the 2022-23 academic year begin on Monday, Aug. 29.

Mark Zupan, University president, offered his remarks to faculty and staff in attendance, as well as those who participated via Zoom. Zupan discussed the critical importance of educational intersections and the key role they play in helping the University fulfill its mission of “transforming students’ lives and bettering our world.” 

These intersections, Zupan noted, include programs leading to professional opportunities in growing and emerging fields like health care, “Big Data,” and renewable energy. These are reflected in newer academic majors Alfred University has added like data analytics, business analytics, and computer science; Bachelor of Science degrees in chemistry and biology; and BS and BA degrees in biochemistry.

“Our renewable energy engineering and environmental studies majors are premised on the opportunities associated with the global Green Movement,” Zupan noted.

Regarding the healthcare industry, Zupan noted Alfred University’s minor in health planning and management, as well as partnerships with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) and Cornell University’s graduate program in health administration.

He also referred to the stimulus behind other potential new academic programming. “Globalization, sustainability, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, mental health and wellness, and geriatrics are but some of the possibilities.”

Other intersections Zupan discussed included:

           ·  Those with “higher order learning outcomes,” which will develop skills such as critical thinking; creativity; communication; integrative reasoning; cross-cultural awareness; empathy; quantitative analysis; leadership; and team-playing.

           ·  Experiential learning opportunities, like the University’s Applied Experiential (APEX) learning program. Initiated in 2018 through the generosity of Board of Trustees member Michele Cohen HD ’18, APEX provides funding for students in support of experiential learning opportunities like co-ops, internships, studies abroad, service learning, and undergraduate research.

          ·  Intersections across the University’s broad range of academic and co-curricular offerings. These include cross-disciplinary intersections between academic programs. A prime example of this is a recently announced distributed boiler/foundry project (supported by a $6 million gift from Michele Cohen and her husband, Martin) which creates a partnership between the Inamori School of Engineering and School of Art and Design. “The partnership will include a state-of-the-art, on-campus foundry; a digital fabrication lab; enhanced offerings in metallurgy; and other innovative curricular offerings spanning our schools of engineering and art and design,” Zupan noted.

Equally important to these intersections are the guidance the University provides its students while they explore those intersections. Zupan discussed the key role mentors will play in the success students have in reaching their academic goals and achieving personal growth.

“Alfred’s mission/vision of transforming student lives aligns with providing effective mentoring to our students. We are not mass producers of higher education. Rather, we focus on the value we add to each student and the social mobility thereby created, especially for our first-generation students,” said Zupan. “When asked about their most treasured memory of Alfred, our alumni overwhelmingly note that a faculty, staff, or other community member took an interest in them as students—assisting them in identifying their purpose; nurturing their confidence to pursue that purpose.”

 Zupan suggested the University will intensify its efforts to guide students more directly through expanded mentorship.

“What if, on account of Alfred University’s intimate size, commitment to inclusivity and transformational experiences, and range of programs, our promise to prospective students was to strive for at least one faculty, staff, or other community member—for example, a fellow student or an alum—taking an authentic and deep interest in them and changing the trajectory of their lives for the better?” he asked. “No other higher education institution currently promises that every student will acquire at least one mentor through their college pathway who will change their life for the better. Could Alfred University realize its promise by striving to make such an objective a reality?”

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