Dr. Irby “Skip” Sullivan was inaugurated as the 12th president in the 106-year history of Alfred State Friday afternoon.
Hundreds of faculty, staff, students, special guests, and elected officials packed into the Orvis Activities Center, where the Inauguration ceremony took place. The Alfred State ROTC presented the school colors and Chaplain Steven D. Brown, a decorated, retired U.S. Navy captain, gave the invocation and benediction.
Speakers included State University of New York Distinguished Teaching Professor and Business Department Co-Chair Jim Grillo, who presided; Dr. Nancy L. Zimpher, chancellor of SUNY; New York State Sen. Catharine Young, R-Olean, who brought greetings from elected officials; Alfred State College Council Chair Patricia K. Fogarty, who brought greetings on behalf of the College Council; Alfred University President Dr. Charles M. Edmondson, who brought greetings on behalf of the New York academic community; Dr. Donald. F. Arnold Sr., an Alfred State alumnus who held numerous teaching positions at several colleges and brought greetings on behalf of alumni; Alfred State Development Fund Board Chair Dale Stell, who brought greetings on behalf of the Alumni Association, the Development Fund Board, the Education Foundation, and the ACES Board; Donald Cameron, who spent 30 years in Admissions at Alfred State and brought greetings on behalf of the local businesses and community; Dr. Earl Packard, a professor in the Alfred State Mathematics and Physics Department, who brought greetings on behalf of the unions; Student Senate President and senior in the applications software development program Anthony Whiteman, who brought greetings on behalf of the students; and Dennis Dueno, a senior in the digital media and animation program.
The president set the tone for his student-centered address by defining the words “pioneer” and “passion” and explaining how they pertain to Alfred State students.
“Just as the pioneers did not know what they would face when they took their families west, they knew that opportunities awaited them,” Sullivan said. “Many of our students face that same uncertainty but know that passion is the vehicle that will drive their success and education is the GPS that will guide those passions.”
Sullivan noted that many pioneers of the Old West “didn’t seek land, gold, and opportunity alone,” but rather had a network of friends and relatives that “had their back.”
“So, too, here are our students, beginning their journey. Ironically, many have moved west to Alfred, NY, facing many of the same uncertainties of our pioneering forefathers and pioneering families,” Sullivan said. “We at Alfred State and many who have gone before you recognize this. We recall being there ourselves and are here to ensure our students reach their destination.”
The president urged students not to lose their pioneering spirit and to try something different and outside of their comfort zone every day.
“Also, while passion may fade from time to time, find and invest in those things for which you have passion,” Sullivan said. “Do the things that you love.”
He continued, “As president of Alfred State, I view it as my responsibility to help you grow. It is my responsibility to create an environment that is safe and that fosters both the pioneer and the passion inside of you. Today, I want to pay tribute to our students – our past, present, and future students. You are the reason I am here today.
“I am passionate about being student-centered. I am passionate about being a pioneer, and I am passionate about Alfred State.”