West Virginia Wesleyan College is the first institution of higher learning in the United States to offer a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical hygiene officer - a profession that has developed within the last 20 years.
Incoming and current Wesleyan students can currently declare the major or enroll in its classes, which will begin in August.
Every lab that works with chemicals is subject to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration Lab Standard, which requires a chemical hygiene officer. Many states have even more stringent requirements than OSHA mandates, and all require a chemical hygiene officer or an appointed employee fulfilling the same professional occupation.
It is for these reasons that Mel Charlton-Smith, chemical hygiene officer and Wesleyan chemistry lab coordinator and lecturer, said the program will benefit its graduates and the industries in need of chemical hygiene officers.
"Our major will emphasize the laboratory experience so that students become effective chemists, and the course work will help them to develop professional skills needed to be a chemical hygiene officer," Charlton-Smith said. "Experiential learning and CHO preparation courses will assist students in the transition from undergraduate studies to employment or professional work."
A student's successful completion of the Bachelor of Science in chemical hygiene officer will signify that he or she has completed an integrated, rigorous program, which includes introductory, foundational and in-depth course work, both in chemistry and the chemical hygiene field, Charlton-Smith explained.
The goal of the chemical hygiene officer course work is to ensure students have a firm background in chemistry and a solid grasp of the regulations and responsibilities of the profession.
"This will be a groundbreaking program for Wesleyan, the nation and the profession," Charlton-Smith said.
More information about the chemical hygiene officer major is available by calling Charlton-Smith at 304-473-8355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.