ALFRED – Alfred University awarded the J. Henry Smith Distinguished Public Service Award to State Senator Catharine M. Young (R-Olean) in appreciation for her efforts to secure a $4 million grant to fund a high-temperature materials testing laboratory the University will create in partnership with Corning Incorporated.
“Senator Young’s announcement is only one of the many reasons Alfred University is pleased to present (her) with the J. Henry Smith Distinguished Public Service Award,” said Dr. Gene M. Bernstein, chairman emeritus of the Board of Trustees and now chair of its Statutory Affairs and Government Relations committee.
Bernstein noted the award is not one the University awards frequently. “We are stingy with the award because it is rare to find someone who meets the ideals set by the late J. Henry Smith, a former AU trustee who left a career as chairman and chief executive officer of the Equitable Life Assurance Company to begin a second career in public service as the commissioner of Human Services for New York City.
A former news reporter, Young was director of communications and development for the Rehabilitation Center in Cattaraugus County when she ran for the county legislature. In 1998, she became a member of the New York State Assembly, and then in 2005 was elected to the State Senate.
“As a member of the Assembly and as a state senator, Catharine Young has been an advocate for the residents of the Southern Tier, championing causes such as affordable housing, accessible health care, development of new and replacement of old infrastructure, and promotion of the agricultural industry,” said Bernstein.
She has also been an ardent supporter of higher education across her district, he noted, and has been a “strong and successful proponent for Alfred University,” who has “worked to bring more prosperity to the Southern Tier by supporting economic development initiatives to benefit its residents and to promote industry.”
“I am touched, I am honored deeply, and I am humbled when I hear the previous recipients of this prestigious award,” said Young. “It means a lot to me to represent Alfred University…. Charley (AU President Charles M. Edmondson) gets it… He understands what we need to do to reinvigorate the New York State economy, the Western New York economy, the Southern Tier economy.”
Young said she is excited about the potential of the high-temperature materials testing lab to benefit existing industries and to help attract new. “As we look to a new New York State, this project is a key component of our endeavors and our success.”
Charles Craig, senior vice president, Science & Technology, Administration and Operations for Corning Incorporated, expressed his appreciation for Young’s efforts in securing the funding. He noted the grant “gets us started,” but the measurement of success is when “we are in a totally new space” in terms of knowledge, an area that “redefines” what is known about materials, their characteristics and how they behave. “We will have brand new knowledge, and Alfred will lead the way,” he said.
Edmondson said Craig’s challenge to find “new knowledge territory” is “one we take seriously every day.”
He assured Senator Young that the University is “mindful that the money we are receiving comes from truck drivers and school teachers, electricians and professors. It comes from the taxpayers of this State. It’s their money, and they are counting on us” to use the funds to create new knowledge. “That’s an ethical as well as scientific obligation,” he said.