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PSU offers state's first safety degree program

January 29, 2013 12:00AM

A new safety degree program at Pittsburg State University is the first of its kind in Kansas.

Beginning in the fall 2013 semester, PSU’s College of Technology will offer an environmental and safety management degree aimed at producing a variety of industry safety professionals. The new program was approved by the Kansas Board of Regents in December 2012.

“This will be a broad-based degree program that will expose the students to a lot of things involved with environmental and workplace safety,” Jim Otter, chairman of PSU’s School of Construction, said.

The new degree program builds upon the current safety minor and emphasis offerings.

“We’ve been working on this for quite some time,” Otter said. “The College of Technology began offering safety courses well before 1980 and we’ve since added a minor and emphasis area. So, a student could major in construction with an emphasis in safety. With the new degree program, our students can major directly in safety and pick an emphasis such as construction, environmental, fire safety or general industry safety.

“Upon graduation,” Otter said, “they’ll be able to identify themselves as true safety professionals with hands-on experiences. That will pay great dividends for them when they leave school and enter the workforce. Industry is always looking for highly trained, well-educated safety professionals. This new degree program is tailor-made to produce such professionals. A lot of credit can be given to our strong safety advisory board for their many years of support and input that helped lead to this degree."

Bruce Dallman, dean of the College of Technology, said the new degree program is a “natural outgrowth” of the COT’s current offerings.

“We have, in the Kansas Technology Center, a tremendous lab in which to offer a safety program,” Dallman said. “We have industrial equipment in the building, equipment on which our students can train and learn. We can do real-life lessons on confined space safety or fall protection. We also have our outdoor safety lab that can offer even more hands-on training.”

Dallman said the COT is able to offer the environmental and safety management degree because of the level of expertise among the college’s faculty and staff.

“We have outstanding faculty members with backgrounds in safety and a solid industrial experience,” Dallman said. “These are men and women who have lived the things they are teaching, and we could not be more proud to have them on our faculty.”

Pat Flynn, associate professor in the PSU School of Construction, said implementing the safety degree program is another sign of the university’s forward-looking approach to the field.

“We have always been on the front-burner, so to speak, when it comes to offering a safety program,” he said. “Now, we’re taking it to the next level and adding an element that will be most beneficial for our students.”

©2013 Pittsburg State University