July 1, 2024

BCSP Foundation and Columbia Southern University Partner to Advance Safety Education and Practice

Throughout its history, the BCSP Foundation has partnered with industry allies to fulfill its mission of building a world where safety is universally valued and practiced. That vision continues to be realized through the programs, events, grants, and scholarships run by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals (BCSP) and the BCSP Foundation. These initiatives are made possible through strategic partnerships essential to our goal of creating a safer future.

Columbia Southern University (CSU) is one such partner that has supported the Foundation’s mission from the beginning. CSU shares our vision of creating a world where safety is a common core value in all industries and walks of life. Recently, CSU made a donation to the Foundation’s Dollars for Safety Scholars campaign, which raised funds to support the Foundation’s Qualified Academic Program (QAP) scholarships. Their contribution was pivotal in supporting the educational journeys of aspiring environmental health and safety (EHS) students.

Columbia Southern University is an online university that began in 1993. It offers over 450 courses, more than 100 active degree programs, and has conferred more than 100,000 diplomas. It offers programs in Emergency Management, Criminal Justice, Cyber Security, Homeland Security, Fire Science, Forensic Investigation, and more. However, its biggest program is Occupational Safety and Health (OSH). Students attending CSU can expect to couple real-world experience with the latest industry best practices, providing them with the edge needed in a competitive job market.

Dr. Tamara Mouras is the Dean of CSU’s College of Safety and Emergency Services. Starting in 2011 in the Criminal Justice Department, Dr. Mouras presides over many of the department’s programs, including OSH. A day in the life of Dr. Mouras involves checking to make sure courses are running smoothly and meeting with Dr. Greg Boothe, CSP, CIH, the Academic Program Director for Occupational Safety and Health. One of its more recently launched programs is the Doctor of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH).

“As the leader in safety in higher academia, making sure that our commitment to our students is our number one priority,” said Dr. Mouras. “We want to make sure that we stay on top of all OSH programs and provide students with the best education relating to industry trends in OSH.”

As it relates to the recently launched DOSH program, Dr. Boothe ensures that there are enough professors receiving training to be on dissertation committees for the doctoral program. He works directly with the students, developing their prospectus, assisting in their research, and, for some students, narrowing their scope a bit.

“So many students come in, and their initial thought is to save the world,” said Dr. Boothe. “But in a doctoral program, we can’t save the world just yet; we have to narrow the prospectus to something they can complete, and then they can provide something to the field.”

Together with their colleague Travis Smith, Dr. Mouras and Dr. Boothe oversee the university’s degree programs in OSH, with a focus on the burgeoning doctoral program. The doctoral program has welcomed nearly 200 applicants since its launch in April 2023. “We work closely because that program has grown very quickly!” continued Dr. Mouras.

As the safety matter expert for the OSH program, Dr. Boothe provides a unique area of expertise. He joined the United States Air Force in 1978 as a missile launch officer, serving at the Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) system at the 390th Strategic Missile Wing (SMW) in Tucson, Arizona.

“I sat in an underground silo for three years, and I was a Plans and Intelligence officer,” said Dr. Boothe. “But as anyone who’s in the military knows, they always give you additional duties.”

Which is where Dr. Boothe was first introduced to safety. He was given the role of squadron safety officer, assuming responsibility for what they called the “AFOSH standards” for the missile silo. “This was the 70s, there weren’t a lot of OSHA standards to reference, and they certainly didn’t have any standards about working on nuclear missile silos,” continued Dr. Boothe.

As the squadron safety officer, he quickly understood the importance of safety when a missile exploded at a separate silo in Arkansas. “After I looked at the incident report, it was something that could have been prevented as a simple safety issue,” explained Dr. Boothe. “It was a simple fix.” That event unfortunately resulted in injuries and fatalities, but it led to Dr. Boothe and his squadron creating preventative measures to prevent a similar event from happening again.

Dr. Boothe also has a unique perspective on the importance of EHS credentials. In addition to being a Certified Industrial Hygienist (CIH), Dr. Boothe is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP), the gold standard of safety certifications offered by BCSP. He earned the CSP certification while working at a major company with over 40 plants across the U.S. and Europe. “At that time, each country had its own set of regulations. So, going to Europe and dealing with regulations in Spain and France and Germany and Sweden, the CSP gave me more credence.”

One such benefit of the CSP came after the reunification of East and West Germany. East Germany owned most of the industrial plants and facilities, which the newly unified country was attempting to sell. Dr. Boothe’s company sent him over to provide an audit for seven of the facilities to determine if they should purchase the facilities and how much it would cost to bring them up to OSHA standards. “My CSP helped me in going over and doing that job and then presenting the material back to our management,” he continued.

Part of Dr. Boothe’s role also includes informing graduates of CSU’s bachelor’s and master’s OSH programs about BCSP’s Graduate Safety Practitioner (GSP) designation, which puts recent graduates on a fast track to attain the CSP. Prior OSH program leader Dr. Dan Corcoran secured a place for the programs on BCSP’s Qualified Academic Program (QAP) list. This placement allows graduates to apply for the Graduate Safety Practitioner (GSP) designation upon completion of their studies, and Dr. Boothe ensures the OSH programs continue to maintain this status. Holding the GSP means you have met the standards set by the Associate Safety Professional (ASP) blueprint, satisfying the credential requirement when applying for the CSP.

“That’s very important that our students know that if they go through the program and complete it, they’ve done enough to earn the GSP,” said Dr. Boothe.

Columbia Southern University takes pride in giving its students the best chance to succeed. It consistently demonstrates a dedication to student success through a range of tuition assistance and scholarship programs tailored to current and former military members. It also offers comprehensive student support services. Moreover, CSU’s fully online format provides a significant advantage for those who lack the time or resources to attend a traditional campus-based institution.

“Online is the way of the future,” said Dr. Mouras. “Whether you are in safety or criminal justice or nursing or engineering, it is how most institutions offer many of their courses now, and I believe we are ahead of the game.”

And with their commitment to advancing the profession through donations to organizations like the BCSP Foundation, they ensure we all stay ahead of the game. As we work together for the betterment of EHS practitioners and the profession, our collective efforts reinforce the importance of safety in both academic and professional settings. Together, we can ensure both current and future safety leaders are well-prepared to meet the challenges of this ever-evolving profession.

Multiple factors, including prior experience, geography, and degree field, affect career outcomes. CSU does not guarantee a job, promotion, salary increase, eligibility for a position, or other career growth.