Worcester Polytechnic Institute campus police Officer Robert Vandal never expected to be a fraternity advisor, let alone an award-winning one.
He has faithfully served as the advisor to Gamma Iota, WPI’s chapter of Sigma Pi, for almost a decade and a half and recently received the Dr. Robert L. Burns Award for his dedication.
Officer Vandal, who has spent more than four decades in public safety, the last 23 of them with campus police at WPI, became a familiar face to WPI’s fraternity community when he served as a liaison for campus Greek Life, giving safety talks and risk management training to each campus chapter. In 2004, a couple of members of Sigma Pi asked him to serve temporarily as their adviser.
“I didn’t know if I could do this as a police officer,” Mr. Vandal said, recalling that he checked with WPI Police Chief Cheryl A. Martunas and was given the go-ahead to assume the role of adviser, a position he thought would be very brief.
A few weeks turned into three months and then six months and finally Sigma PI announced it had arrived at a decision for a permanent adviser. Their choice surprised Mr. Vandal.
“They wanted me. I agreed to try it for a year,” Mr. Vandal said.
Fourteen years later, Mr. Vandal is still offering advice and serving as a liaison between the fraternity and the university, and, most important, being a mentor and offering a listening ear.
Not only do the fraternity members cherish his advice, they have welcomed him as a brother.