The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Annette Diorio era comes to an end: Vice president for student life to take role at Union College in January

Annette Diorio, a stalwart of the college administration, has cited familial commitments in her decision to leave the school. (Photo courtesy of Lafayette College Communications)

After over two decades of leadership, Vice President for Student Life Annette Diorio will be departing Lafayette. In January, Diorio will head to Schenectady, N.Y. to become Union College’s vice president of student affairs and dean of students.

“Now feels like the time,” Diorio said. “Union has a particular sort of direction that it’s going in that is compelling.”

Chief among her reasons for departure is family.

“I do believe that COVID really changed the way we were thinking about wanting to be close to family, certainly it changed it for [my wife] Kate,” Diorio said. “And so that was a little bit of a push in a way to sort of be like, ‘Is there an opportunity to be in a place that is committed to the same kind of ideals that Lafayette is committed to, but that is closer to Kate’s family?”

For Diorio, a Bronx native, coming to Lafayette 22 years ago was something of a homecoming after working for years in Missouri.

“At the time, my mom was getting older, so I was appreciating being closer to her. I opened up the Chronicle of Higher Ed and saw this job at Lafayette and I was like, ‘Wow, if I was ever going to work at a school, Lafayette would be the place I want to go right now,'” Diorio said.

Diorio’s first job at Lafayette was as director of residence life during a time when the college was experiencing a housing shortage. After 10 years in this position, Diorio was promoted to dean of students, then to senior operations manager and, finally, ascended to her current role in 2012. In the succeeding years, Diorio has shepherded the college through challenges and unprecedented growth, though her most treasured accomplishments are those that came about working with students.

“I consider the greatest thing I can do is to amplify what’s coming from students,” Diorio said. “The minimum wage that was so important to Student Government … my being able to sort of carry that ball across the finish line felt really, really good.” Last semester, Lafayette raised the campus minimum wage for student workers from $7.25 to $8.25 an hour.

Diorio also cited her work with staff as a crowning achievement.

“I look at my legacy, really, as the staff that has been built. I have had the opportunity to hire really wonderful folks. I have had a chance to mentor so many students and staff. It’s been really terrific,” Diorio said.

Diorio’s new role will include overseeing Union’s dining, class deans, accessibility services and athletics, in addition to many of the responsibilities she currently has at Lafayette.

“[Union’s] strategic plan, which has already sort of formed, really talks about strengthening the student experience in particular ways, which I believe I will be able to lend some energy and expertise to,” Diorio said. “They received a very large gift of $51 million to focus on access for women in STEM and engineering and humanities connections. It’s just exciting to sort of contemplate being a part of that.”

As to why she chose Union over other schools in the area, Diorio pointed to its similarities with and her love of Lafayette.

“I think they’re really looking to strengthen the connection between engineering and humanities, much like Lafayette is,” Diorio said. “I think there is some overlap between Lafayette and Union in that we offer many of the same curricular options. So I think there is a similar DNA in the type of student who’s thinking about a place like Lafayette.”

Diorio’s decision has only been weeks in the making and caught many by surprise. Despite this, the administration has been supportive of her departure.

“After 22 years, Annette leaves Lafayette better than she found it. And I have no doubt the talent she gained here will serve her well in her next chapter. We wish her all the best,” President Nicole Hurd wrote in an email.

As for what is next, Diorio said she faces the same uncertainties of students leaving home for the first time. In the meantime, however, Diorio is focused on Lafayette.

“I’m not working at Union now. I’m actually working at Lafayette now,” Diorio said. “So I need to stay with our students here until I’m done working at Lafayette.”

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About the Contributor
Trebor Maitin
Trebor Maitin, Managing Editor
Pennsylvania enthusiast.

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