The Death of Trustee David Johnson

Posted on 3/2/2009 8:30:02 AM

David L. Johnson, who was instrumental in creating Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Safety Sciences Department and who served the university as a trustee for over twenty-nine years, died Monday, February 23, 2009, in West Chester at the age of seventy-eight.

After completing his studies at IUP, Johnson earned a master’s degree in Safety Management at New York University. He was a vice president of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association Casualty Insurance Company, working as a supervising safety engineer and loss prevention specialist around the time the Occupational Safety and Health Act passed in 1970.

According to Dr. Ferguson, IUP’s Safety Sciences chairman, the passage of that legislation, and the subsequent creation of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, created a demand for employees and administrators trained and skilled in inspecting and identifying workplace hazards, investigating workplace accidents, and providing safety training for employers and employees.

The creation of the two federal agencies also made grants available to schools to create safety sciences departments.

Bob McClay, a retired IUP Safety Sciences professor, said Johnson recognized both the coming need for safety sciences-trained professionals and the opportunity for IUP to develop a new department to provide the training.

Johnson, along with Dr. John Chellman and Dr. Elwood Sheeder, were instrumental in securing the $100,000 grant to help start the Safety Sciences program at IUP. Today, thirty-seven years after it was established, IUP’s Safety Sciences Department is one of only twelve accredited undergraduate programs in the nation. The IUP Safety Sciences Department now has two hundred undergraduate and seventy-five graduate students and is expected to launch a doctorate program in Safety Sciences this fall or next year.

The building that houses both the Safety Sciences Department and the Nursing Department was named after Johnson’s mother, Sally Bevan Johnson, who graduated from the university in 1921 when it was the Indiana Normal School.

David is survived by his wife, Audrey; his son, Ward, and his wife, Elaine, of Bryn Mawr; his daughter Lee, and her husband, Donald Faulconbridge, of Grove City; and four grandchildren.