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Half a Century Later, Still a ‘Treasure’

Half a Century Later, Still a ‘Treasure’
Robert P. Zelno ’66, G’77, P’99, standing in the lobby of Leahy Hall.

Robert P. Zelno ’66, G’77, P’99

A lot of things come and go in 50 years, but at Scranton, Bob Zelno’s presence has been a constant.

This June, the longtime staff member will be joined by his classmates for their 50th reunion celebration, exactly one half century after their graduation day. But when Zelno leads the 50-year class delegation into Commencement exercises the week before his reunion, it will be his last official act as a University employee.

After 34 years at Scranton, Zelno has announced his retirement.

“Bob is a Scranton institution and a treasure to be cherished,” said Gary Olsen, vice president of University Advancement. “He knows everyone, how they are connected to the University, and how they are connected to each other.” He has touched many people during his tenure at Scranton, always with care, grace and class.” During his career, Zelno served under five University presidents and worked in conjunction with 13 consecutive presidents of the Alumni Society. An Air Force veteran who worked at the Pentagon and served in Vietnam, Zelno joined the University staff in 1982 as director of alumni relations and then went on to become the executive director of the Alumni Society. During more than 25 years in that area, he oversaw the growth in the alumni population from 18,000 to 41,000. In 1991, Zelno was honored with the Frank J. O’Hara Award for University Service. In 2008, he assumed a post in the Advancement Office as regional director of development.

“So many of us who graduated in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s can attribute our lifelong connection to the University to Bob. He always remembered our names and celebrated our career changes, marriages and children’s births ... patiently waiting until the time was right to re-engage us,” said Martina Martin ’80, outgoing president of the Alumni Society. “Bob wrote the book on relationship building. He is a treasure.”

Maryjane S. Rooney ’80, director of alumni relations, worked with Zelno for nearly a decade. “His love of his alma mater and his dedication and work ethic are hard to match,” she said.  “The University of Scranton and its alumni have been blessed to have the selfless service of Bob for close to 35 years.”

Though his role within the University will change, Zelno said he will still be an active member of the University community. Often concluding his written correspondence with the phrase “Alma Mater Ours Always,” Zelno said he does not anticipate being a stranger on campus or at alumni events in the years ahead.

“I am most grateful to witness the growth of our beloved University firsthand on a daily basis and to have crossed paths with countless fellow alumni and inspirational members of the Jesuit community,” said Zelno.

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