Lena Rose Orlando, assistant director of special programs in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, enjoys helping students.
During a leisurely lunch at a favorite campus eatery, Lena Rose Orlando rests her chin on her hand and contemplates her 14 years as a staff member at Syracuse University. She's a veteran of several administrative offices who's known for her ability to adapt and eagerness to assist students. "I keep reinventing my role here," she says with a smile. "I enjoy my work no matter what title I have."|
Students and colleagues across campus have become familiar with Orlando's comforting manner. She has worked as a secretary and a crisis counselor, and is now assistant director of special programs in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. "No matter where I am on campus, I feel comfortable," she says.
Orlando happened upon her first University position quite by accident. She was taking a break from the workplace to raise her children when she received a call from a campus friend. The then-communication sciences department was looking for a secretary. "I was having a good time in the real world when I got this call," Orlando says. "At first I laughed and told my friend, 'I am not a secretary.' I couldn't even type, but I ended up doing it anyway."
What initially seemed an unlikely job proved a perfect fit for Orlando. The University environment felt like home. "I'm one of those people who has to be 'Mom' to everyone, and this was a natural place to be Mom for a lot of people."
Orlando later moved on to the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, where she worked as a liaison with the National Academy on Aging. In 1990, she became a student advocate at the University R.A.P.E. Center. "Before long, there was an opening for a sexual assault response coordinator, and I took the job," she says.
For two years, Orlando spent countless hours researching the effects of Rohypnol, commonly referred to as the "date-rape drug." She believed it was important for students to have the facts about the drug, and she became a frequent speaker at sorority and fraternity houses on the subject. "I did tons of research," Orlando says. "It was an issue I took to heart."
Orlando also implemented a dramatic publicity project for the R.A.P.E. Center. Bright orange stickers with the center's phone number were posted in nearly every rest room on campus. "The stickers were an easy way for students to learn about us," Orlando says. "Some people thought it was a pretty drastic idea at first, but I thought it was worth doing even if just one student came forward and sought help."
Orlando's efforts at the R.A.P.E. Center earned her a Chancellor's Citation. The work, she says, was often emotionally draining, but she knows she and the staff helped many students. "We took the center to another level," she says.
She recently accepted her position in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, which allows her to continue making personal connections with as many students as possible. "You have to be willing to go the extra distance to help students," she says.
Orlando oversees special student recognition programs, coordinates activities for student commuters, and meets with students who are considering leaving the University. "Sometimes, you just talk to them and that's all it takes," Orlando says. "We do everything in our power to share what the University offers. Why would we let somebody go and settle for something less?"
Barry Wells, vice president for student affairs and dean of student relations, admires Orlando's dedication. "Through the power of her character and personality, Lena Rose has had a profound effect on many students," he says. "Students and colleagues find she is easy to work with, possesses outstanding interpersonal skills, and, as a skilled listener, is always open to the views and opinions of others. My respect for and admiration of Lena Rose's philosophy of education and approach to students and their needs have increased markedly over the years, as we have worked together successfully for the welfare of our students."