Tom Rambo headshot on campus
7.13.2021
By Roanoke College News

Rambo wins statewide award for service during pandemic

For his calm, organized and effective leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic, Roanoke College’s Tom Rambo has earned the Virginia Federation for Independent Colleges’ (VFIC) Distinguished Service Award for Pandemic Support.

Rambo, the current interim dean of students and director of campus safety, will become the permanent dean of students later this summer.

In his letter to VFIC nominating Rambo, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Affairs Richard Smith referred to Rambo as “a model of sacrifice and service to the community and a beacon of confidence and calm.”

At Roanoke College, Rambo has served as director of campus safety since 2014 and associate dean of student affairs since 2018 with responsibilities in safety, student activities and the Colket Center. He led Roanoke College’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as incident commander for the Incident Command Structure (ICS).

Rambo’s leadership of the 18-person ICS team helped the College steer through the pandemic and make well-informed decisions as a group, Smith wrote.

“Guiding these discussions is where Tom’s skills in listening, processing, and consensus-building truly excelled,” Smith wrote.

“He was highly successful in getting students to abide by health and safety standards and worked firmly yet compassionately with those early on who did not.”

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Affairs Richard Smith, on Tom Rambo

Rambo made sure students felt heard as well. Following the announcement on March 11, 2020, that campus would be closing, Rambo took the time to go to each residence hall to address any questions or concerns students had to ensure them there was a college official looking out for them. Rambo led the pandemic management while carrying out his regular, full-time work.

“He was highly successful in getting students to abide by health and safety standards and worked firmly yet compassionately with those early on who did not,” Smith wrote. “The result was the development of a culture of mask-wearing and social distancing among students that has been instrumental in controlling surges in cases and keeping pandemic infection rates on our campus low.”

Rambo also received Roanoke’s STAR (Service To All Roanoke) award in December 2020.

A native of Philadelphia, Rambo earned a B.A. from LaSalle University in Philadelphia and an M.S. from Saint Joseph’s University. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command in Evanston, Illinois. He graduated from the Philadelphia Police Academy. He has nearly 20 years of experience in law enforcement and 16 years' experience in student affairs.