Emergency Management program exceeded expectations


By Jackson Booth, Reporter


Under the leadership of professor Patrick O’Neil, the Emergency Management program has exceeded expectations in student enrollment.

At the beginning of this school year, the College of Public Affairs and Community Service began to offer a new Bachelor of Science in Emergency Management. 

Thirty-eight students are enrolled in the Introduction to Emergency Management course this fall. O’Neil has also been approached by numerous professionals in the community that would like to take graduate courses to enhance their knowledge of emergency management. 

“We were happily blown away by the response,” O’Neil said. “We anticipate that a lot more people become interested in the program.” 

Students in the Emergency Management program are expected to complete 120 hours, which is broken down into general education requirements, electives, core Emergency Management requirements, and a choice of concentration. 

Students can choose a concentration in the following areas: Public Administration, Fire Services Management, Aviation, IS&T, and Criminal Justice.

“It’s not intended to necessarily be easy,” O’Neil said. “We’re going to stress things like technical writing, which is for government and private industry that need people that can write precisely and convey information.”

Although the program may seem somewhat demanding, interest in it is great and has allowed O’Neil to explore several options for the program.

For instance, O’Neil is currently working with Metropolitan Community College, Southeastern Community College, and Iowa Western Community College to figure out articulation requirements that would give students at those institutions the ability to continue their degree at UNO. 

O’Neil said that he is working with those institutions mainly in the Fire Services realm, however he is hoping that they will be able to include some Emergency Management in their agreement. 

“We’re hoping to get some Emergency Management so the students that are interested in Emergency Services have somewhere local to complete their four-year degree,” O’Neil said.

One of the other possibilities for further developing the Emergency Management program is to potentially put courses online.

“Our intention is to incrementally put the courses online to make it more accessible for people with careers,” O’Neil said. “Particularly with firefighters and police that work some pretty heft shifts.”

O’Neil is also looking forward to the potential of adding an additional concentration to the Emergency Management degree in Intelligence and Security. O’Neil is currently working with the Political Science Department, including professor Jonathan Benjamin-Alvarado, to develop this possibility. 

“It’s a good program to get involved with because it can put people to work in the CIA and FBI for instance,” O’Neil said. 

The main goal of this program is to equip students with the knowledge they need to enter into emergency management careers. In order to address problems related to natural and man-made disasters, O’Neil said having an awareness of Emergency Management concepts is crucial.

“We’re all affected by adverse environmental events,” O’Neil said. “Whether they be natural like a tornado or man-made as a result of terrorist[ic] activity, information is key.”