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MTSU teams with Safe Skies Alliance for safety degree

Officials from MTSU and Alcoa, Tenn.-based National Safe Skies Alliance inked a memorandum of understanding on July 28 to establish a Master of Science degree in aviation safety and security starting in fall 2011.

MTSU will be the first university in Tennessee to offer the graduate-level concentration in its nationally renowned aerospace program.

MTSU Aerospace Professor Gail Zlotky, right, and Scott Broyles, president and CEO of the National Safe Skies Alliance, chat in the tower portion of the University’s Air Traffic Control Simulator after NSSA and MTSU signed an agreement creating a new graduate-level program in aviation safety and security. The group talking in the background includes, from left, National Safe Skies Chairman Tom Jensen; Danni Varlan, member of the Tennessee Board of Regents; senior aerospace major Arianna Bocci; MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee; and Jennifer Roberts, NSSA senior vice president and CFO. (MTSU photo by Andy Heidt)

“One of the traditions we have set in place over the last decade is to create a culture that values partnership,” said MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee. “MTSU’s decision to leverage its considerable aerospace educational resources into a master’s degree program in this discipline, and the willingness by the Safe Skies Alliance to partner with us and strengthen the offerings to our students, is both mutually beneficial and in the public’s best interest.”

Scott Broyles, president and chief executive officer of Safe Skies, reminded event attendees that Sept. 11, 2001, stopped commercial aviation in its tracks and forever changed the industry.

“As we approach the 10th anniversary of that terrible day, I am cautiously optimistic,” Broyles said. “Progress has been made. As with any endeavor, when the right people get involved, progress is accelerated. I tell you today that you are the right people.”

Tennessee Board of Regents member Danni Varlan noted that the partnership helps fulfill the aims of the 2010 Complete College Tennessee Act, which challenges public higher education to produce more educated citizens and a more highly skilled work force. Varlan also is president of East Tennesseans for Airfare Competition.

Dr. Wayne Dornan, chairman of MTSU’s Department of Aerospace, said the event is another step in taking the program to the next level. “We strive for greatness on a daily basis here,” he said.

Other guests from National Safe Skies Alliance included Jennifer Roberts, senior vice president and chief financial officer, and Tom Jensen, chairman of the board.

– Tom Tozer, ttozer@ mtsu.edu

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