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Professor in environmental safety program earns regional award

Pittsburg State University’s Environmental and Safety Management program is one of 12 in the U.S. recognized by the Institute for Safety and Health Management. The program’s graduates have a 100-percent placement rate with starting salaries ranging from $55,000 to $65,000, according to PSU News. 

Not only is the program successful, but so are its faculty members. Pat Flynn, an associate professor in the PSU School of Construction, was named Safety Professional of the Year by the Heart of America Chapter of the American Society of Safety Professionals.   

“I felt humbled,” Flynn said of receiving the award.  

Flynn received the news of winning the regional award just before classes were dismissed for the winter break and that he would receive the award in a virtual ceremony. 

“It was very nice, we met in one of the rooms here in the teach center and had a Zoom meeting and we made the presentation at that time,” Flynn said. “They had hoped that they would be able to do a face to faced but because of Covid, the presentation would be done online.” 

Colleagues, students, and peers wrote letters and recommendations as part of the nomination process for the award. 

“Pat has a passion for safety and seeing students grow in the safety field,” wrote Associate Professor Clifford Morris in his nomination letter. “This passion shows through his teaching style, his outlook on education, and most importantly his students.”  

Flynn believes the award is not only a reflection of his work but is an award for the department as a whole. 

“I also felt that… the award was as much for the program that we’ve developed here on campus than it was an individual acknowledgement,” Flynn said. “It’s a relatively new program on campus and it’s grown and has been well received by employers…and our employers that we’ve dealt with have been more than pleased with the quality of the graduates we’ve been able to provide them with. So, I really feel like it’s an award that goes to Pittsburg State University and our Environmental and Safety Management program itself more so than it is for me.” 

Flynn credits the program’s leadership board, which is comprised of professionals from regulatory fields, from construction, from the general industry, and whole wide array of professionals that deal with safety as well as the faculty for the program’s success. 

“I think one of the strongest things we have going for us is that we have a leadership board… and they help guide our program and help us to develop curriculum that really provides the candidate that is ready to go into the work place..,” Flynn said. “…we have some outstanding faculty here. (They) all are practitioners. Their education is not just from an academic standpoint but is from a practical and kinesthetic standpoint they’ve either worked with regulatory or they’ve worked with private enterprise, so they know what employers are wanting.” 

Throughout his time working in the program, Flynn has been able to build relationships with the students in the program which is one of his favorite parts of being involved in the program. 

“(I enjoy) hearing from our alum, and having our alumni call us back and let us know how successful they’ve been,” Flynn said. “I’ve probably spend several hours over Christmas break visiting with alumni in the insurance profession, in the construction profession… they’re all over the country and they’re at that point in their lives where their education is equating into earning potential and they can buy things and enjoy their lives…. that’s probably one of the most fascinating things.” 

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