Texas Tech University

Chemical Engineering Wins Presidential Safety Award

Allen Ramsey

November 10, 2022


The department’s standards for safety earned a $25,000 award from Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec.

Safety first, always. 

That's the mindset that helped the Department of Chemical Engineering in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering win the 2022 Presidential Departmental Excellence in Safety Award. 

“This award means a lot to me, to the college, the faculty, staff and students,” said Stephen Bayne, the acting dean of the College of Engineering. “This shows how important safety is to us.”


The Presidential Departmental Excellence in Safety Award is presented annually to a department or similar academic unit to recognize excellence in safety, research, scholarly and creative activity and teaching. The award is presented to the winning department by Texas Tech UniversityPresident Lawrence Schovanec and comes with a $25,000 fund to help with safety initiatives. Each department applying for the award must submit a plan of action with their application. 

“The extra funds allow us to directly address issues we might not be able to through our normal budget process because we don't have a separate line item for safety,” said Danny Reible, acting department chair for chemical engineering said. “Having that $25,000 also allows the faculty to be able to address some issues in their own labs.”

The Department of Chemical Engineering plans to use the fund to create a student-led safety organization, create an internal reward system, purchase new safety supplies and equipment and improve safety infrastructures. The funds also will allow the department to host multiple safety-related events throughout the next year.  

And while the department's push for safety over the last year has been recognized, Bayne wants safety to remain at the forefront. 

“We can't assume that because we did this work with our current students that the next crop will automatically know what is expected,” he said. “We have to constantly be pushing this circular approach for safety.

“I want everyone to feel comfortable reporting safety issues because if they aren't reported, we can't do anything to address them. We want everyone to feel confident that if they see something wrong they can report it and we'll address it in an appropriate way and then we'll all learn from it to keep it from happening in the future.”