Mission first, safety always

Friday, September 15, 2023

Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,

Happy Friday!

Or is it safety first, otherwise the mission becomes mission impossible? As a representative of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for over 20 years, I have reviewed national and international universities to ensure fit and function of their academic and campus-life programs. Assessment criteria include faculty qualifications, educational program objectives, student outcomes and institutional support, among others. In recent years, and due to a few national high-profile cases, campus safety has become front and center for university accreditation considerations.

Of course, in the last three years, campus safety took an entirely different turn with the challenges presented by the Covid pandemic. So much so that many campuses, including ours, had to abandon business as usual and resort to insular approaches to carrying out our mission. Contagious viral infection mitigation moved up to and sometimes surpassed laboratory accident prevention considerations. First aid took a new approach, and alerting students about keeping their distance was up to par with staying alert when working with dangerous laboratory equipment or remaining watchful when walking alone late at night.

During National Campus Safety Awareness Month in September, we are encouraged to reflect on what defines a safe environment for us and our situation. At S&T, a safe environment is more than the presence of our able and alert campus police department. We pride ourselves on having the most up-to-date safety tools and monitoring devices available, of course, but building and maintaining positive relationships across campus and in the community is what earned Missouri S&T a place as one of the top 25 safe campuses in the U.S. by the Campus Safety Summit. Our police officers combine a personal connection and sense of community to provide a safe environment.

Our University Police department offers personal security escorts, who will provide a security escort for anyone 24/7. Our Rave Guardian app is a robust tool that allows users to reach the police department directly. Rave Guardian also provides critical campus phone numbers, safety information and a safety timer to serve as a virtual guardian. Most importantly, the police actively monitor incoming calls and texts to the app and answer requests for help personally, in real time.

Our ID card access technology enables police to lock and unlock doors remotely and to observe doors that are propped open or out of service. Envision a situation when a perpetrator must remain locked in or out to prevent harm to others.

Our network of hundreds of security cameras across campus provides monitoring of virtually all locations and enables tracking of a potentially harmful situation. Our bicycle registration and property engraving as well as information about detecting scams and online fraud provide additional safety features of a different kind. Oh, by the way, are you locked out? Do you need a jump start? Call our police department for free assistance on or off campus. In partnership with the community and with close ties to the Rolla Police Department, the Phelps County Sheriff’s Department, the Missouri State Highway Patrol and other security organizations, we have established reciprocal relationships to enhance safety not only for our campus, but also for our broader community.

We consider safety a critical element of our mission and one that we can only achieve when we come together. Thanks to our police officers, to our cyber security team and to the vigilance of all of us, we are focused on our mission in an environment where safety is only noticed on the rare occasions when it is violated.

Let’s pause a moment, evaluate our individual and collective spaces, consider potential needed mitigations, and recognize that it is no accident when there are no accidents. Let’s keep us, all of us, safe, and let’s live by the motto of mission first, safety always.



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Mohammad Dehghani, PhD
mo@mst.edu | 573-341-4116

206 Parker Hall, 300 West 13th Street, Rolla, MO 65409-0910