A Gift for Teaching: Dr. Theodore Orlin
Utica alumni reflect on the professors who made a lasting impact.
“Professor Theodore S. Orlin, J.D.” Those were the first words written on the blackboard on my first day of class with Professor Orlin. He then went on to tell us that writing his name in that manner was for the benefit of his mother and we were to call him whatever we wanted, as long as we used the same name to his face as we did behind his back. I began calling him “Professor” out of obligation, but that obligation quickly turned to admiration. To this day, despite his numerous invitations to call him “Ted,” I continue to use the “Professor” honorific, as he has earned it many times over.
Professor Orlin is without a doubt one of the best people I have encountered in my life. He is an intellectual’s intellectual. But his intellectualism is tempered by his knowledge and respect for practicality. He is an extremely gifted teacher who cared deeply for his students—even though most of us cursed him most of the time while studying for his exams. And he is a passionate, dedicated, and effective human rights lawyer that impacted the lives of untold people throughout the world.
That is not an exaggeration; the Professor’s work in human rights and women’s rights—often imperiling his own safety and liberty—was always in service to others. His human rights work was the foundation of his teaching, and he invited his students to participate in his life’s work. I had the honor to assist the Professor in numerous endeavors, including serving as his research assistant in his capacity as the President of the International Human Rights Education Consortium, and I drafted the first draft of a complaint attempting to sue the United Nations in a U.S. court for violating the human rights of the Roma People by subjecting them to generational lead poisoning in the aftermath of the war in Kosovo. What undergraduate student has access to a professor operating at that level—and what professor would be willing to involve an undergraduate in such an endeavor? Professor Orlin. He is singular in that regard.
But Professor Orlin’s kindness does not end with the lofty goal of fighting for human rights. The Professor cares about people as individuals. I cannot count the times that he has asked me how I was doing. I’d start to talk about school, or later work, and his response was always the same: “No, I mean, how are you?”
It was Professor Orlin that first suggested I apply to law school. But prior to that, it was Professor Orlin who made me start thinking about the world—and how to make it better. Professor Orlin never told me what to think, but he taught me “how to think like a lawyer” far more competently than any professor I encountered in law school. He employed the Socratic Method expertly, indeed Professor Kingsfield from “The Paper Chase” would be envious of his skill. That is one of Professor Orlin’s greatest attributes: leading students to understanding what they themselves believe, without holding it against them whether it was what he believed.
I have employed the lessons taught by Professor Orlin throughout my life, and they have served me extremely well as I have advanced in my career in law and in politics. I currently serve as the First Deputy County Attorney in Schenectady County, and I am the Chairman of the Schenectady County Democratic Party. I would not be where I am today without Professor Orlin’s influence. So, this one time, thank you, Professor Theodore S. Orlin, J.D.
- Frank S. Salamone ’06; Schenectady, NY
Record applications to Utica University put institution at the top of prospective students’ lists
Utica University offering High School Students an Up-Close Look at Communications Careers
I would like to see logins and resources for:
For a general list of frequently used logins, you can also visit our logins page.