Dave Edborg is a competitive deadlifter who competes in the World Association Benchpress and Deadlift Championships. He’s also a father, husband, world traveler, and a stalwart role model to all, a firm believer that everybody can work hard to be the best person they can be. But for his day job, he serves as the Public Safety Patrol Major here at RIT. I met him at Beanz to talk about his background, career and to get a behind the scenes look at Public Safety, focusing on the work they do to keep RIT’s students safe and the university running smoothly. He bought the coffee.
A native of Jamestown, NY (about 75 miles southwest of Buffalo), Edborg now resides in West Irondequoit. Edborg, an RIT alum, studied criminal justice, minoring in security management, in the early ‘80s. “My professors, my colleagues, and other students have become lifelong friends. RIT was a terrific, terrific experience…,” he mulls it over for a second, “and it still is after 30 years!”
Edborg has spent most of his life in and around RIT, entering his 30th year of his Public Safety career. “I was hired right out of school, July of ‘84,” he recalls proudly. “Then I worked my way up to Sergeant. Then I was at a bank, in the corporate security division, for three years. My job was eliminated and I came back here [to RIT].” Thirty years is quite a long time, but Edborg wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. He also travels to RIT’s international campuses in Dubai and Croatia to assist with security protocols.
Edborg was a recipient of the Life Saving Award from the Northeast Colleges and Universities Security Association in 1998. Curious, I asked him if he could retell the story, a question he’s surely received many times before.
“We [Public Safety] got a call one night. I was the officer in charge at the time. The call was from a custodian about a fire in one of the upper floors of Ellingson Hall. I got there and I can remember smoke coming out from underneath a door. So I went in, and there was a Deaf girl who was sound asleep, and her bed was on fire. I’ll never forget it. Now, I had to get her out of there. She was laying down, and I scooped her up and went outside. She’s flailing and screaming and she’d burned her foot a little.” He explains, “So why’d that happen? She had rigged an alarm system which was strobing, and it used her lamp. Her lamp had fallen onto her bed, and she was sleeping while the bed was fully engulfed in flames. I got her out of there, got a blanket on her, ambulance, the whole thing. So that was what that was about. Through my time at RIT we’ve had a lot of people [Public Safety officers] here that have done a lot of things that have saved people’s lives.”
Edborg has been heavily involved in the RIT community in capacities outside his day job throughout his time here as well. “I was a coach for Partnerships in Pluralism for many years. I was the Chair of Staff Council for several years as well and currently I am an advisor for the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority.”
“I’m often asked, ‘When are you going to retire?’. Retire?! I don’t anticipate… that’s not even in my vernacular. Both my kids are out of the house, my wife’s a schoolteacher. Retire?! I love what I do. There’s nothing better than working with young people, helping them get through things and working with professional colleagues. I want to be able to say that I affected a lot of people’s lives. That’s what I want to hang my head on. ‘What did Dave do? Well, he did this and this, but you know what? He really helped me, guided me, cared.’ You treat people like they’re your own children. Retirement’s not on my radar.”
A solid sentiment from a man who dedicates his life’s work to guiding young adults, and aiding them to become the best people they can be.
When he’s not helping people as Public Safety Patrol Major, Edborg has been setting and breaking records in deadlifting. He currently holds four NY state records, competing in the men’s open 57-60 category, and the open Law Enforcement/Fire 56-60 category for the World Association Benchpress and Deadlift Championships. “I started back in the early ‘80s, back when I was a student here, and I grew into the competitions and competed nationally but in ‘91 I stopped. I got back into it four or five years ago for health reasons, thinking, ‘I could get back into this [lifting].’ So I put my mind to it and I lost about 40 pounds, and I’ve been competing nationally again for about three years now. And I’m proudly representing RIT.”
Ever the tight knit community, RIT fully supports Edborg with his passion. “Even in the gym, a lot of students will help me out with my workouts. I’ve found my thing, and I’m going to continue to do it… as long as I stay healthy.” At the end of August, Edborg will be traveling to Helsinki, Finland to compete against lifters in the European Cup. He will make connections and represent RIT internationally, all of which he excels at. Tiger pride runs deep.
Health Tips and Advice for Students
We began to talk about healthy living, citing the amount of resolution needed by gym-goers currently working on bettering themselves. “Lifestyle changes. This is going to sound like mom and dad talking,” he prefaces, “but sleep is important. A good diet, with not a lot of processed foods. Stretching ahead of a workout to prevent injury. You’ve got to be smart, listen to your body! Having a plan is really important. When you go into the gym, and there’s seven people waiting for every machine you get discouraged. And when you get discouraged, what do you do? You leave.” He lays out the ideal format for gym goers. Have your set of exercises listed somewhere, know what you want to do at the gym that day, and begin to form a weekly routine. Eventually, you will build good habits, and you’ll be able to hit the gym and get in a compact and results-oriented workout.
Main takeaway? “Eat those good, healthy foods, take vitamins, drink a lot of water, and get plenty of sleep.”
“What falls under my umbrella is the patrol; the uniform staff. That’s training, vehicles, dignitary visits and special events, whether it’s a D1 hockey game or a concert.” He lists names of celebrities and other figures that he’s taken care of while they visited RIT’s campus, including names like Jesse Jackson, Dick Cheney and Kanye West, just to name a few. “Managing these special events, these dignitary visits… planning that is my forte,” he tells me. “It takes many hands to plan a single event and our team at Public Safety is second to none!” That’s no small task, knowing how large RIT’s campus is, not to mention the population residing at RIT’s campus on any given day.
Public Safety’s main goal is to keep students safe, and guide them in the right direction if need be. Edborg made sure to clarify that. “That’s what we’re here for. Student success. We have an open door policy. I tell people that if they need anything, you come and see any public safety representative for assistance. We’re happy to help.”
Dave Edborg lives and breathes RIT. His dedication to his staff, the students and faculty is apparent as soon as you talk to him. He loves what he does and shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.
“I feel honored to be able to say that this is what I do, especially when I’m surrounded by top notch colleagues in Public Safety and the university.”