The Clark County Safety Council Steering Committee has bestowed Dr. Matt Franz of Clark State Community College with the 2020 Safety Leader of the Year award.
Franz, senior vice president of technology, safety and strategic initiatives for Clark State, was nominated for the award by Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State.
“Dr. Matt Franz has led Clark State Community College through a change in institutional culture which now embraces safety and training,” said Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State. “Higher education institutions often see safety as a strategy to be handled by someone else, but at Clark State, students, faculty and staff believe safety is everyone’s responsibility. That culture coupled with robust planning and training has led to a very safety-centered organization.”
In his role as senior vice president of technology, safety and strategic initiatives, Franz leads both the IT and safety aspects of campus. Blondin said he has been able to blend the two components into a more cohesive unit.
“This has proven especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic, where keeping the campus community safe has meant a move to online working and learning and has required a blend of virtual and in-person distancing and safety protocols,” she said. “Throughout the pandemic, Dr. Franz and his team worked efficiently and collaboratively to establish short- and long-range plans leveraging existing pandemic plans as a foundation. They have rapidly increased frequent communication across the campus.”
Franz has also been instrumental in fostering many strong relationships, both internal and external to the organization, which further strengthen the institution’s safety and security posture. Clark State has developed strong partnerships with law enforcement, emergency management and health departments, which have helped to provide outstanding context and strength to the college’s plans.
Franz said it was an honor to even be considered for an award such as the Safety Leader of the Year. “I am humbled to be considered among my colleagues who focus on safety throughout Clark County. Safety is a critical part of the work we do at Clark State. We have an exceptional work environment where we are able to maintain a focus on safety while at the same time focusing on serving our students,” he said. “Clark State is fortunate to have an amazing safety-focused culture.”
Franz said he’s had the opportunity to attend a number of safety council meetings and great things are happening in Clark County from a safety perspective. “Just the fact that the council exists demonstrates that the leadership in the county and the community businesses believe it is an extremely important component of our daily work and strategy,” he said.
Franz said safety at Clark State has always been front-of-mind and a key component of his work, but the pandemic complicated things dramatically.
“One of the biggest things I’ve experienced throughout the pandemic was the growth of deeper collaboration within and across the areas I supervise on campus,” he said. “Safety is really not the job of someone else. It is something that everyone needs to own. The internal and external relationships that have been built or grown stronger through this pandemic have really helped the college remain a strong advocate for safety.”
Franz said adding the complexities, unknowns and evolving guidance of a pandemic made things even more challenging, but the Clark State team rose to that task.
“Through rapid internal communication, planning and execution, we were able to quickly develop foundational strategies to significantly reduce the risk of pandemic-related issues on campus,” said Franz. “It is worth restating that this success was really due to the exceptional teamwork at Clark State. I am extremely proud to work here and often use the safety culture here as an example of how safety can be part of everyone’s work without it being onerous or difficult. It is an amazing thing when everyone is working with a shared vision and expectation!”
To be eligible for the Springfield/Clark County Safety Awards, the nominee must:
- Be a member in good standing of the Springfield/Clark County Safety Council.
- Have a minimum of three years of experience related to the field of safety and/or health.
- Not be a current Steering Committee member of the Springfield/Clark County Safety Council, nor be a Steering Committee member in the past two years.
- Not be a former winner of the Springfield/Clark County Safety Council Safety Award in the past five years.
A statement from the Clark County Safety Council Steering Committee stated that Franz’s nomination for the award was a stand-out. “With your safety leadership, you have created a safety-first culture at Clark State,” it read. “Speaking for the Steering Committee, we greatly appreciate safety leaders like you and want to recognize your dedication.”