President, Alfred University
Years in current role: 5
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Being involved with higher education is as close as one can get to finding the Fountain of Youth. The opportunity to interact with such a diverse, talented, curious, and dedicated group of students and faculty/staff colleagues interested in making the world a better place is a great privilege and pleasure.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve dealt with over the past year?
Figuring out how to keep our campus community safe in the face of the COVID while preserving the intersections at the heart of higher education. Viruses thrive on intersections and we had to learn how to mitigate some of these through vaccinations; masking; social distancing; personal hygiene; screening; tracing; and sequestering. At the same time we preserved the intersections with knowledge; across people and disciplines; the past and the future; and ourselves and our values. Trustee Jim Jordan ’72 is fond of noting that the first time he met himself was at Alfred University. Educational institutions such as ours provide a crucible for reflecting on and developing the principles that we live by — even more so when a pandemic amplifies the crucible’s heat.
What do you see as the biggest changes in the higher education industry in the next 3-5 years?
A greater appreciation of the pivotal role that colleges and universities play in overcoming the various ills confronting humanity. The time that we have been living through has been a combination of 1918, 1929, and 1968 — a vexing amalgamation of viral pandemic and socioeconomic challenges. While the challenges have been manifold and monumental, the way to overcome them is through the education that is at the fore of the mission and vision of the higher education industry.