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MORGANTOWN, WV -

West Virginia University's director of mining and industrial extension has been honored with the "Because of You" Safety Professional Award.

James Dean accepted the award Oct. 3 at the 2013 Spirit of the Coalfields Miners' Celebration at the Tamarack Conference Center in Beckley.

Awards were presented by the Center for Environmental, Geotechnical and Applied Sciences at Marshall University, the National Coal Heritage Area; the United Mine Workers of America, the West Virginia Coal Association Strategic Solutions and the West Virginia Division of Energy, Office of Coalfield Community Development.

Dean has extensive experience working on mine safety-related issues. Following the January 2006 mine disasters in Sago in Upshur County and Aracoma in Logan County, he served as acting director of the state's Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training at the request of then-Gov. Joe Manchin. 

During his tenure, he worked with all facets of the industry to develop consensus standards on requirements for self-contained self-rescuers, refuge chambers and mine communication and tracking systems. The committee's work provided the template for new federal regulations implemented through the MINER Act of 2006.

He continues to serve by gubernatorial appointment on the West Virginia Mine Safety Technology Task Force, which is charged with looking at new technology to improve mine safety and mine emergency operations.

During his time at WVU, Dean worked collaboratively to develop a mobile SCSR training gallery for use at mine sites in addition to a simulated underground mine for training for miners, mine emergency responders and others. 

He recently was appointed to serve on a National Research Council committee to study how to equip miners to escape a disaster before help arrives.

In other news at WVU, associate professor Leslie Tower has co-authored a book, "Women and Public Service Barriers, Challenges and Opportunities." 

Florida International University professor Mohamad Alkadry is her co-author.

Tower holds a dual appointment in WVU's School of Social Work and Department of Public Administration. She leads the policy development component of the WVU ADVANCE grant.

She serves as chairwoman of the Women's Council For the Council on Social Work Education, the sole accrediting body of social work education.