Alfred State President Dr. John M. Anderson has announced that he will be leaving the college effective March 31 to assume the presidency of Millersville University of Pennsylvania.
“Naturally, I am excited about this new opportunity for many personal and professional reasons yet this new transition requires me to separate from a community I care deeply about,” said Dr. Anderson. “There will always be a soft spot in my heart for Alfred State and the students who make it their home.”
Among students, Dr. Anderson’s departure is deeply felt.
“President Anderson has always been approachable and interested in students first and foremost,” said Courtney Cardinal of Depew, a senior studying forensic science technology at Alfred State. “I’ve had the opportunity to experience the leadership through my role as student senate president and his passion and determination is one I hope to emulate in my career. His leadership style says ‘go make it happen!’ which encourages people to do just that. We’re going to miss him.”
Among his colleagues at Alfred State, Dr. Anderson is well known for his innovative approaches to leadership and is especially revered by the friends and colleagues he has worked with at Alfred, first as a teacher, then as an administrator, and, more recently, as president, beginning in 2008.
College Council Chair Pat Fogarty of Belmont has worked with Dr. Anderson throughout several years of her multiple terms as Council chair. “I know first-hand of John’s devotion to Alfred State,” said Fogarty, adding, “…most remarkable of all is his approach to civic engagement. Developing students who are ready for the workforce and who are inclined to give back to their communities and the world-at-large is probably the single most important thing an education leader can do.”
During Dr. Anderson’s more than 11-years as a professor of chemistry and physics at Alfred State (which began in 1981), he also served as chair of the Faculty Senate at Alfred and was convener of statewide SUNY Local Governance Leaders. Both experiences influenced him as president to elevate faculty senate representation to the highest level possible.
“In many schools, faculty senate chairs only meet with their respective presidents once a year, but John has always embraced a shared governance model,” said Faculty Senate Chair Karen Young, chair of Computerized Design and Manufacturing. “Under John, I am part of his President’s Council which means that I meet with him weekly. This allows faculty at Alfred State to have a voice in major decisions. He has always had great respect for faculty and is admired for that.”
As president, enrollment at Alfred State grew by 20 percent and the college embarked on a new Strategic Plan that included the reallocation of more than $1 million to new strategic initiatives; new programs were added including new baccalaureate programs in sport management, forensic science technology, human services management, and nursing; and, most recently, Alfred State received approval for a five-year bachelor in architecture (BARCH), the only one of its kind in the State University of New York (SUNY) system. For the last five years, the college has also been named as a top college by the U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges Report.
Most notably, the college has also undergone its largest building boom in recent history under the leadership of Dr. Anderson. Projects totaling $75 million include the complete renovation of the Physical and Health Sciences Building featuring state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms, and the construction of a new $33.5 million Student Leadership Center that is unlike anything seen in higher education. The college also renovated the College Farm and opened the new Center for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture, which is one of only three centers of its kind in the nation designed to enable students to learn about traditional and organic agriculture in a side-by-side analysis.
“President John Anderson truly is a visionary, and it has been a joy to partner with him to accomplish key projects including the Center for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture, Physical and Health Sciences building and Student Leadership Center,” said New York Senator Catharine Young (R,C, I-Olean). “President Anderson’s outstanding leadership, creativity, and innovation have benefitted the college and the region. SUNY Alfred is an economic engine that features top-notch quality and affordable education that readies our workforce for productive and rewarding careers, thanks to President Anderson’s efforts. He leaves behind a tremendous legacy of accomplishments, and I wish him well in his new endeavors.”
Among his peers in higher education, Dr. Anderson is recognized as a leading advocate for sustainability, and under his leadership, Alfred State has become a leader in the sustainability movement. For example, Dr. Anderson is an active member of the American College & University’s President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) Steering Committee, and he was one of the first college leaders to add a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) role to his leadership team in order to elevate this increasingly important initiative.
“Dr. Anderson understands that modeling sustainability in everything we do on campus is an essential component of our efforts to produce graduates who are responsible and engaged citizens,” said CSO Julian Dautremont-Smith. “It also can save money, attract students, and raise the profile of the college. For example, Alfred State earned a prestigious award from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) earlier this year for our pioneering student built zero energy home in Wellsville. The many innovative sustainability practices initiated under Dr. Anderson’s leadership paved the way for this kind of national recognition and I anticipate that more will be coming.”
Dr. Anderson’s commitment to sustainability can also be seen in Alfred State’s efforts to ‘green’ programs by imbedding green and sustainable technology into a broad array of program curriculums. These innovative efforts are relevant to today’s marketplace and are among the many reasons why Alfred State has a 99 percent employment and transfer rate.
“Alfred State is leading the way when it comes to preparing students for ‘green careers’,” said Craig Clark, executive director of the Wellsville campus and dean of the School of Applied Technology at Alfred State. “Businesses are adapting green and sustainable technology and we’re graduating students who are prepared to implement this technology with skills in areas including sustainable and green design, sustainable and green construction, energy efficiency, photovoltaic systems wind energy, solar thermal, and geothermal systems.”
In between Dr. Anderson’s years as an Alfred State professor and his presidency, he held several senior-level administrative positions within the college including the roles of vice president of student services, dean of student development, vice president of institutional advancement, and provost and vice president for academic affairs. In those roles, he developed a diversity of new degree programs and established the office of Institutional Advancement for which he developed and implemented a major gifts program and annual fund campaign. Then, during his tenure as provost, the college saw significant enrollment growth, and he enabled the college to raise more than $2.3 million for a variety of academic projects including the establishment of a manufacturing training center.
When Dr. Anderson left Alfred in 2003, it was to serve as interim executive vice president for academic affairs at State University of New York Institute of Technology. A year later, he was named executive vice president and provost of Hartwick College in Oneonta, a position he held for four years. During his time there, Hartwick’s education programs were accredited for the first time and the college raised nearly $6.5 million for a variety of projects, including the construction of a new social science building. “It is, of course, with mixed emotions that we congratulate John on his new position,” commented SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher. “He has served SUNY with absolute distinction. We will work quickly with the College Council at Alfred State to initiate a search for the college's next president.”
Within higher education, Dr. Anderson is active on several boards including ACUPCC, the New York Campus Compact Executive Committee, the SUNY Resources Allocation Committee, and the SUNY Finance & Administrative Strategy Team. He serves on the board of directors for Springbrook in Oneonta, a non-profit organization that supports people with developmental disabilities, and locally, he is active on the Alfred Tech Resources Inc.
Dr. Anderson has a bachelor of science degree in physics with a minor in chemistry from State University College at Brockport; a master of arts degree in physics from the State University College of Arts & Sciences at Geneseo; and a Ph.D. in education from Cornell University in Ithaca. His major area of doctoral study was adult education, with minors in program evaluation and planning and organizational behavior. He also completed additional post-graduate work at Harvard University’s Institute for Educational Management, and the State University of New York at Buffalo.
He and his wife, Vivien, will be relocating to the Lancaster, PA, area later this spring.