Mount Union Will Never Be the Same

May 10, 2010

By JACK R. WEBER Jr.
The Review

After nearly a quarter of a century, Beeghly Hall certainly has a different atmosphere this week, and will forever more without Janet Oprandi to make sure things are running smoothly.

For so many former service center student workers like myself, our college experience just wouldn't have been the same without Janet and Dotty Baia.

Dave and Karen Ramos may never have gotten married to each other, Brad Whitlatch may have never become a teacher, and none of us would have had our Mount Union Mom.

Even though I was from Sebring and close to my parents, Janet was right there on campus ready with advice, encouragment, and at times a scolding word when she felt it was neccessary.

I remember my own mother telling me before my first classes that if I needed anything to "go talk to Janet." My mom and dad assured me that Janet would take care of me. They never steered me wrong.

Neither did Janet.

Janet kept her students on the straight and narrow, tried to keep us focused on our studies and acted as an unofficial academic and personal counselor.

She helped students through illnesses and death in their families, parental divorce and countless personal problems.

Over the years, she mediated arguments between roommates, boyfriends and girlfriends, and even one of a political nature between two female students.

They were from different parts of the U.S.S.R. when that country was being divided by war and unrest, as communism was deteriorating.

Janet made sure that the two never worked at the same time because they were at odds, but she did listen openly to both sides without passing judgement.

As the tensions in Russia began to subside, those two students began a dialogue and eventually became comrades. Janet would probably never take credit for any part of that, but I suspect that a few subtle nudges from her helped facilitate that friendship.

Janet was always willing to give anyone a chance. David Torrence is a prime example. David was legally blind, but Janet hired him to help sort mail.

Patiently, she showed him the ropes. Torrence, now an accounting supervisor at a federal prison, became what Janet and Dotty recall as the most accurate mail sorter that the two ever hired.

Janet treated everyone the same, but she had a way of making each one of her students feel special, like one of her own.

I will always remember how Janet introduced me when an administrator, or a professor, or another student, that I did not know entered her Beeghly basement service center. Janet would say, "So and so, this is Jack, my Sebring boy" and follow it with another tidbit of information like my major, or an activity that I was involved with at the time.

Janet also was always cracking jokes and I will always think of her and Dotty as the Abbot and Costello or the Martin and Lewis of Beeghly Hall.

I thank Janet for her advice, her patience and her sense of humor and I wish her the best of luck and happiness in her retirement.

Mount Union would not have been the same without her and it never will be again.

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