Dignitaries, Hazmat Suits Mark Event Celebrating Kent State's Newest National Honor
The designation was celebrated Oct. 30.
On Oct. 30, Kent State University President Lester A. Lefton was joined by Dr. Deborah Wilson of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), former Ohio Congressman Ralph Regula, community and business leaders, university officials and other guests to celebrate Kent State being named the nation’s second Designated Training Facility of the NIH’s National Biosafety and Biocontainment Training Program (NBBTP). Kent State’s Biosafety Training Lab becomes a continuing education training site for the NBBTP, providing the latest in professional education to those who operate, maintain and work in biocontainment laboratories .
Upon entering the Samsung Auditorium in the Liquid Crystal and Materials Sciences Building, guests of the event were greeted by students wearing hazmat suits. Also setting the mood of the event was a Centennial Squirrel wearing protective clothing, including a mask, googles, lab coat and booties.
Dr. Christopher Woolverton, Kent State professor of public health and director of the Center for Public Health Preparedness, served as emcee and introduced the speakers.
“As exciting as this development is for Kent State, for Ohio and for our nation, let me state the obvious: We all wish there was no need to prepare professionals to defend our nation against both emerging disease and bioterror agents,” Lefton said. “Because the need does exist – to an urgent and unprecedented degree – I’m proud that Kent State can be a leader in providing biosafety and biosecurity training of the highest caliber.”
Lefton thanked Regula, who served Ohio’s 16th Congressional District for 18 terms, for his long and strong support of Kent State. Regula was instrumental in securing congressionally directed funding for Kent State’s Biosafety Training Lab.
Wilson, who traveled from NIH headquarters in Bethesda, Md., is director of the Division of Occupational Health and Safety at NIH. She was very impressed with Kent State and praised its people, the university’s NBBTP designation and the new College of Public Health. “It’s clear to me that ‘Excellence in Action’ is not just a tagline here,” she said. “It’s a way of life at Kent State.”
Dr. Murray L. Cohen, president and chairman of Atlanta-based Frontline Healthcare Workers Safety Foundation Ltd., which administers the NBBTP, recognized those involved with the Biosafety Training Lab.
“Dr. Woolverton, you and your colleagues have proved to be as resourceful as you are visionary in starting up your state-of-the-art, hands-on laboratory training facility and initial biosafety curriculum,” Cohen said. “In The Field of Dreams motif of ‘build it and they will come,’ you have positioned your program way ahead of the power curve.”
It is estimated that Kent State will serve more than 100 professionals from academia, industry and government each year with the NBBTP.
Following the speakers’ remarks, a plaque certifying Kent State’s Designated Training Facility status was unveiled. The plaque will be displayed in the Biosafety Training Lab in Cunningham Hall.