Philip B. Wels Outstanding Service Award

Philip B. Wells Outstanding Service Award winner Rita Andolina
Rita M. Andolina, MSW ’88, BA ’80.

Rita M. Andolina, MSW ’88, BA ’80 

Andolina has spent a lifetime working to help others in need. In her career, she spent more than 30 years with the Western New York Developmental Disabilities Services Office, advocating for those with intellectual and physical disabilities. After retiring earlier than expected due to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, she continues to share her knowledge in the areas of mental health, leadership and organizational development, diversity issues and disabilities.

 An important aspect of Andolina’s life is a strong commitment to volunteerism, and she believes in the Buddhist proverb, “If you light a lamp for someone, it will also brighten your own path.” One of her primary avenues for giving back is as an alumni volunteer for UB. Andolina served on the UB Alumni Association Board of Directors for 17 years, chairing numerous committees. She is the alumni advisor for the School of Social Work and a passionate mentor, providing guidance to students past and present.

 Outside of UB, she has given her time to advance issues of diversity and to oppose oppression. She has attended leadership training conducted by the National Coalition Building Institute in Washington, D.C., and has assisted in coordinating a number of community campaigns and fundraising activities, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Statewide Food Drive, Project Flight (literacy program), the MLK Buffalo and Albany celebrations, Gerard Place Transitional Shelter with UB School of Social Work students and the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

 Andolina is a co-founder and member of ARMS (Advancing Research in Multiple Sclerosis), a volunteer group working with the Department of Neurology in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to pursue patient-centric research into the disease.

Philip B. Wels Outstanding Service Award

The Philip B. Wels Outstanding Service Award is given to individuals and groups whose achievements, contributions or volunteer service advance the University at Buffalo.