Annette Diorio joined Union as vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jan. 2.
A Bronx, N.Y., native, she was previously vice president for Student Life at Lafayette College, a position she held since 2012. To learn more about her accomplishments at Lafayette, visit union.edu/news.
At Union, Diorio will lead a broad portfolio of student-facing services and operations including the residential experience; dining; health and wellness; student activities; student conduct and athletics.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in education from the State University of New York at Cortland and her master’s degree from St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y. She also earned a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Kansas, where her doctoral dissertation examined the impact of internet use on the academic and social integration of first-year college students.
She and her wife, Kate, a high school math teacher and active community volunteer, enjoy hiking, biking and other outdoor activities, as well as spending time with their black lab, Chance.
What inspired you to spend much of your career in Student Affairs?
What have been the biggest challenges and the biggest rewards? I am the first in my family to attend college and benefited from the support and mentoring of many wonderful student affairs professionals as an undergraduate. I was drawn to this work as a way of doing something I loved that could also have such a direct and positive impact on others. The biggest reward has always been watching students flourish and engage their passions. I enjoy seeing what students do after college and remain in touch with many former students. Working in student affairs is really a lifestyle choice and there isn’t a great way to “turn-off” so preserving work-life balance has always been a challenge. I am getting better at that but I suspect it will always be a challenge.
What are your hopes and goals for Student Affairs at Union? Where would you like to see the department in five years?
Student Affairs is a collection of numerous departments. My hope, and what we are striving for, is to articulate a stronger message about how the work we do individually serves a collective purpose. If in five years we have a really clear identity of how we all fit together to create the kind of opportunities for students to thrive and find belonging at Union that will feel like a win.
How important are alumni to the student experience, and to student opportunities?
Alumni play critical roles in the lives of current students. Alumni provide valuable opportunities for internships and other career opportunities, and serve as advisors and mentors to individuals and groups of students. Alumni who have not been back to Schenectady in a while should definitely make the trip and see the development in the city and on campus. Stopping in to cheer on one of our athletics teams, attend a performance or even just to connect with current students over a coffee are just a few ways for alumni to show their support.
Who is the best point of contact for alumni interested in engaging more with Student Affairs? How can graduates get involved?
That depends on how folks want to engage. One of the most direct paths is to connect through the Becker Career Center (union.edu/becker-career-center) and get connected to GarnetGrove. This platform allows students and alumni to connect around interests or affinities.
Why Union? What attracted you to the College and this position?
Union is a really special place. There is no sense of complacency here; people are actively engaged in thinking about and shaping the future of higher education. There is a can-do attitude that I love. This role, while similar to the one I held at Lafayette, has some different elements in the portfolio and the priority to continuously elevate the student experience. It is very much about building upon strengths and I love that orientation.
What’s something people are always surprised to learn about you?
I am quite introverted and that always seems to surprise folks. I think that sometimes people imagine student affairs work, particularly the vice president role, as best suited for extroverted people.