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KNOXVILLE — A University of Tennessee safety professor, Susan Smith, has received the National Safety Council’s highest honor.

Dr. Susan Smith

Smith, an associate professor in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences and director of UT’s safety center, received the council’s Distinguished Service to Safety Award for her many contributions to safety education and research.

The award came during the NSC’s annual meeting in New Orleans, where a team of UT safety faculty and students presented research papers.

“Receiving this award was wonderful on a personal level,” Smith said, “but it really recognizes the quality of the UT graduate program in safety.

“Much of the work I was recognized for came from projects I did with service organizations and graduate students, so the award really belongs to lots of folks,” Smith said.

Smith was one of 20 national finalists for the distinguished service award. Seven of those finalists, including Smith, were chosen to receive the top honor.

“It’s been said before, but it was really an honor to me just to be nominated,” Smith said.

Graduate students in UT’s safety program have received more “New Horizons” research awards from the NSC in the last 10 years than any other graduate program in the United States, Smith said.

One of her group’s most successful projects, she said, was creating a 10-point checklist that schools, small businesses, and apartment and condominium residents can use to protect themselves and respond effectively in an emergency.

The checklist was originally created for the Tennessee School for the Deaf, a Knoxville facility educating the deaf and hearing-impaired since 1845.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the NSC placed Smith’s modified emergency checklist on their national Web site and encouraged the public to use it.

The checklist also is available on UT’s safety program Web site, at