Putting Safety First
While he was on campus, Smith announced three gifts from MEM to help the department. Two of the gifts are for the department's undergraduate lab, to expand and renovate the current space as well as to create a fund for its annual maintenance. A third will establish a new undergraduate scholarship.
Smith says the joint partnership between Missouri Employers Mutual and the University of Central Missouri will assist in providing generations of students enrolled in the College of Health and Human Services, Department of Safety Sciences with valuable experience and resources.
"We share a vision that includes creating safe, healthy and injury-free workplaces," he adds. "This partnership gives us the opportunity to give back to Missouri's future by enhancing the education of tomorrow's leaders in the safety sciences field."
Larry Womble, who retired earlier this summer as interim department chair, says insurance agencies often turn to UCM to hire graduates who can serve as loss control specialists. He remembers sitting in a meeting many years ago at a conference listening to Smith discuss his proposal to the state to form MEM, a company which eventually recruited Central Missouri grads. Years later, it was Womble whom company representatives first visited with a proposal to benefit safety students.
"The reason they came here was because of our programs and the quality of our students. They are very appreciative," he says. "They came in here and knew specific faculty members by name, and that's because of our alumni."
As students prepare to work in the field, it is important to gain hands-on experience with some of the tools of the trade.
The safety sciences lab on the second floor of the Humphreys Building provides such an opportunity. Of MEM's gift, $80,000 will fund the lab's expansion and renovation. Womble said a computer area adjacent to the lab will be moved, allowing the department to double the size of the facility, currently at 784 square feet.
"We had a proposal for the last five to 10 years, but just couldn't do it because of the financial situation," Womble says.
He adds that health and safety equipment used to monitor noise, dust, airborne contaminates, and noxious fumes, must be calibrated and maintained in good working order. A second component of MEM's gift is $80,000 for annual calibration and maintenance of the lab equipment over the next five years.