Skip to Main Navigation | Skip to Content

University Relations

University of Central Missouri
Administration 302
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660-543-4640
Fax: 660-543-4943


MEM Gift Will Benefit UCM's Department of Safety Sciences

Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (April 17, 2008) – A significant gift from Missouri Employers Mutual Insurance will benefit the Department of Safety Sciences at the UCM. The multiple-year commitment totaling $196,000 will renovate the department’s laboratory and create a fund for its annual maintenance as well as establish a new undergraduate scholarship.

An Already Outstanding Program Gains Momentum

“We are pleased to begin a valuable partnership with MEM as we work toward a mutual goal of increasing safety in the American workplace,” Central Missouri President Aaron Podolefsky said today at a ceremony to officially sign memorandums of understanding for the three gifts. “Our safety sciences program has long been recognized as one of the best in the nation and, with this gift, we will be able to provide more outstanding safety professionals to employers in Missouri and the world.”

MEM Gift for UCM Department of Safety Sciences - click play button below to view the video

Missouri Employers Mutual a Stabilizing Force

Headquartered in Columbia with offices in Kansas City, Springfield and St. Louis, MEM is a mutual insurance company benefiting its policyholders, the employers of Missouri. Since its inception in 1995, MEM has been a stabilizing force in Missouri’s workers compensation market. The company’s commitment to adequate and appropriate pricing is reflected in outstanding financial performance. MEM carries an A- (excellent) financial strength rating from A.M. Best Company, the world’s oldest and most authoritative insurance rating and information source.

Partnership Will Provide Generations of Highly Qualified Professionals

“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,” said Dennis Smith, MEM president and chief executive officer. “We share a vision that includes creating safe, healthy and injury-free workplaces. This partnership gives us the opportunity to give back to Missouri’s future by enhancing the education of tomorrow’s leaders in the safety science field.”

One of About 20 Such Departments Nationwide

Central Missouri’s Department of Safety Sciences – the only such program in the state of Missouri and one of only about 20 in the nation – traces its roots back almost four decades, preceding the passage of the nation’s landmark legislation establishing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in 1971. As the program has evolved, so has the need. From 56 million employees in the country in 1971, now there are 135 million. From 3.5 million employers, there are now 8.9 million. While workplaces have become safer with fewer fatal injuries, the dollar value of workplace injuries, illnesses and medical care continues to increase, costing employers an estimated $1 billion weekly.

Size of Safety Sciences Laboratory to Double

Central Missouri’s safety sciences lab is located on the second floor of the Humphreys Building, the second oldest building on campus, and is a course requirement for all undergraduates in their final junior or beginning senior semester. The current 784-square-foot room has been equipped over the past 15 years through corporate gifts-in-kind and government surplus. Faculty and graduate assistants have designed and constructed some pieces. Enrollment is capped per session at 15 students. Equipment must be calibrated every year so that tests provide accurate results.

Of MEM’s gift, $80,000 will fund the expansion and renovation of the lab, doubling its size. Another $80,000 will fund annual calibration and maintenance of lab equipment for five years.

Undergraduate Scholarship Funded

The third component of MEM’s gift will fund an annual undergraduate scholarship. The MEM Outstanding Student Scholarship is for a full-time junior or senior undergraduate who is in good academic standing at UCM, pursuing a major in occupational safety and health or safety management. To be considered, the student also must have a minimum overall cumulative GPA of 3.0, be a legal resident of Missouri, and have a demonstrated background of campus and community involvement. The scholarship will cover tuition, fees and books for two semesters.

“We truly appreciate MEM’s generosity. Their support will enable us to create a state-of-the-art learning environment providing UCM students exceptional opportunities to acquire theoretical and hands-on knowledge of the safety sciences industry. We will be able to increase the number and quality of our graduates entering the profession and expand their impact on making workplaces safe, healthy and injury-free. Taken individually, each of their gifts would have made the program stronger, but together, their impact will create opportunities that truly cannot be measured,” said Richard Sluder, dean, College of Health and Human Services

Larry Cowan, UCM vice president for university advancement and executive director of the foundation, added, "We both appreciate and applaud MEM for their commitment to a long term-relationship with UCM. As a forward-thinking company and industry leader, a corporate philanthropic commitment such as this will truly make a quality difference for generations of students to come."

MEM Gift Signing Group

Dennis Smith, front left, president and chief executive officer of Missouri Employers Mutual Insurance Company, joined Aaron Podolefsky, president of the University of Central Missouri, and other participants from UCM and MEM on April 15 to announce a $196,000 gift. MEM’s generosity will benefit the university’s Department of Safety Sciences. Among those present for the announcement, are, back row from left, Larry Cowan, vice president of university advancement and executive director of the foundation; Leigh Ann Blunt, assistant professor of safety; Rick Sluder, dean of the College of  Health and Human Services; John Zey, associate professor of industrial hygiene; Larry Ferguson, assistant professor of industrial hygiene; Shirley Johnson, MEM public affairs program manager; Claudia Christiansen, development officer for the College of  Health and Human Services; Michael Croy, MEM vice president loss prevention and premium consultation; and Steve Millikan, MEM vice president of public affairs.