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Omer Frank began his more than 40-year tenure at UCM coaching the wrestling team and teaching the Principles of Safety Education course in the former Department of Physical Education. As the demand for a strong academic safety program grew, his career took a different turn, leading him to opportunities to teach undergraduate and graduate safety courses on a full-time basis.
An Iowa native, the professor emeritus of safety earned a bachelor’s degree from Iowa State University in 1965 and went on to teach courses such as driver’s education and serve as a wrestling coach at Cedar Falls High School. Wanting to further his career in teaching, he came to Central Missouri to pursue a master’s degree in physical education, followed by completion of an education specialist degree in 1968. In the late 1960s, he served as head wrestling coach for one year, and he was later recruited to the Missouri Safety Center. There, he was in charge of educational safety training for school bus drivers, a position which took him to public schools across the state.
In the early 1970s, Frank attended the University of Utah to pursue a doctorate, where he was also invited to teach traffic safety courses. His interest in the safety field followed him back to UCM. National legislation that led to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspired new interest in safety programs that led to the development of a nationally known academic department at UCM that could prepare management personnel. While climbing the faculty ranks, Frank taught courses such as Principles of Accident Prevention and Causation, Emergency Preparedness, Transportation of Hazardous Materials, and graduate research. He also traveled to Albuquerque, NM, to teach weekend extended campus classes.