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Winners of 2021 Safety, Health, and Security presidential awards

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz has honored 11 individuals as well as the entire clinical staff of Cougar Health Services for their leadership in safeguarding the university community this past year. 

The President’s Awards for Safety, Health, and Security recognize students, faculty, and staff who contribute significantly to the well-being of those at WSU. The awards committee received 68 nominations. 

Yesterday’s awards ceremony was part of the annual Safety, Health, and Security Fair. The week-long event provides insights to help make community members’ lives easier, safer, and happier. 

Two awardees were honored in each of three categories: Safety, Health, and Security. A grand prize recognized those whose efforts have had a profound, positive impact on the university’s well-being. In addition, five individuals were awarded certificates of appreciation for their exceptional merit in advancing health and safety at WSU.

Grand Prize

Cougar Health Services (all clinical staff)

While the majority of WSU staff worked remotely last year, CHS clinical staff members continued to work in-person to care for student patients. This academic year, they have worked unpaid overtime to help students stay healthy and ensure that the campus can safely remain open during the pandemic.

Presidential Safety Award

Trent Amonett
Operations and safety coordinator
College of Arts & Sciences

Amonett assembled the college’s Accident Prevention Program, key to running research, teaching, and outreach endeavors safely. He also developed content for the college’s new safety website. He is an ongoing member of the Facilities Liaison committee and Level 2 Employee and Construction Safety Committee, and serves as the college’s COVID-19 coordinator.

Shaun Sorensen
Stage manager
School of Music

Sorensen has enabled musicians to safely perform in concert on the WSU campus during the COVID-19 pandemic. He works collaboratively to seek creative solutions to students’ needs. Sorensen stays up to date on COVID mitigation protocols and communicates with performers if changes arise. He keeps a positive outlook and friendly demeanor while juggling many tasks. 

Presidential Health Award 

Kay Olson
Teaching assistant professor
College of Nursing, WSU Health Sciences Spokane

By increasing access to COVID-19 vaccinations, Olson has advanced the health and safety of the entire community. She managed mass vaccination clinics at the Spokane Arena and has since worked tirelessly to coordinate community vaccination clinics. Her community health students are leaders in the vaccination movement because of her mentorship.  

Cambri Shanahan
University Recreation, WSU Vancouver

As the campus recreation coordinator, Shanahan organizes programs that improve mental health and leads outdoor recreation trips designed to improve physical health. She often prioritizes the needs of students above her own. 

Presidential Security Award

Robert Stilson
Electronics technician 3
Facilities Services

Stilson maintains fire safety and security systems throughout the Pullman campus. He teamed with local fire and public safety officials to test systems in new buildings. He also implemented a safe operating procedure for elevator pits. His proactive discovery of a frozen sprinkler line may have spared a building from flooding and extensive damage. 

Behnam Mozafari

A participant in the police cadet program, Mozafari has volunteered to provide security at WSU concerts and sporting events as part of a uniformed presence. He is committed to ensuring the safety of the students, staff, and community members who attend.

Exceptional merit

The following five employees received special recognition for their service to the university:

Donald Keon
Industrial Hygienist 3
Environmental Services

Keon manages chemical waste at WSU, providing guidance to researchers, graduate students, and contractors, and responding in the event of a chemical release. He has worked overtime and weekends to maintain services while also addressing COVID-19 requirements. He led efforts to make, bottle, and distribute hand sanitizer and disinfectants across the WSU system.  

Glenn Miller
School of Biological Sciences

As Safety Committee chair, Miller has played a key role in addressing workplace safety and security issues. During the COVID-19 lockdown, he regularly checked labs to ensure that vital scientific equipment remained operational. He acquired protective equipment to keep researchers safe and helped address the challenges of social distancing in common areas. 

Conner Rath

Director of health, ASWSU

Rath serves as a bridge between students and Cougar Health Services. Passionate about health issues, he hopes to attend medical school. He works hard—and pays particular attention to detail—to connect students with health care resources and mentors. 

Nuthaphol Ongpituk


Director of safety, ASWSU

Ongpituk has showed exemplary leadership in his role with ASWSU. He regularly seeks ways to address student safety concerns, such as exploring ways to improve safety on Stadium Way. He has initiated regular meetings with university administrators to forge solutions. The impact of his work may last for years to come.

Kelly Newlon
International programs

By addressing health and safety concerns, Newlon has enabled education abroad programs to continue during the COVID-19 pandemic. She implemented a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for all participating WSU students and improved risk-management procedures to protect participants in faculty-led programs abroad.

More events this week at the Safety, Health, and Security Fair 

Still ongoing, the Safety, Health, and Security Fair will feature online flash talks Wednesday, Oct. 20, through Friday, October 22, hosted by experts from across the WSU system. 

Held on Zoom between 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. daily, the 10- to 15-minute talks are filled with practical tips for stress management, money-saving meals, healthy pets, and more.


More information about the 2020 Safety, Health, and Security Fair can be found online.

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