Distinguished Faculty Lecture: Management or Negligence?

Published: September 10, 2010 | Read Time: 2 minutes

Shortly after her husband was killed in rescue efforts to save six miners trapped in the Crandall Canyon Mine, Wendy Black said, “It would have only taken one man doing their job to have saved my husband’s life.”

As investigational reports surfaced and hearings concluded, government and mining industry professionals confirmed what this heartbroken widow asserted in her federal testimony: the decisions of business executives and the corporate culture they manage shapes and alters lives far beyond the bottom line of financial statements and productivity reports.

Drawing upon that idea, Associate Professor of Communication Dr. Patricia Paystrup will deliver this year’s Distinguished Faculty Lecture on Tuesday, September 14, at 11:30 a.m. in a presentation entitled, “The Larger Story Behind the Tragic Loss of Nine Lives in the Crandall Canyon Mine Disaster.”

Using the infamous mine collapse and management inefficiencies as a case study of corporate culture and the media, Paystrup will construct a chronological story of how—in the words of those final reports—“Murray Energy bullied MSHA and got away with it.”

This presentation is a multi-media examination of the factors leading up to the tragic loss of nine lives in a mine that experts and investigators agreed should have never been approved for retreat mining. According to Paystrup, understanding how the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) failed the miners and their families and how a politically well-connected mine owner could intimidate MSHA into breaking its own rules to cater to the mine owner’s interests is important because the Crandall Canyon Mine disaster is a poignant example that “agency capture” and the “revolving-door” between industries and the regulatory agencies that are supposed to act as the public’s watchdogs is a chronic problem in the American system.

Paystrup envisions this lecture as a valuable supplement to students across disciplines, as organizational culture shapes a majority of decisions and work processes within the professional world.

Dr. Patricia Paystrup (PhD, Purdue) is an associate professor in communication and teaches public relations and journalism courses. Her research interests focus on crisis communication, risk communication, and environmental and natural resource policy issues. This is the second time she has presented the Distinguished Faculty Lecture; her 2003 lecture examined Utah’s stake in the national debate over plans for transporting nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

As part of the SUU Convocation lecture series, the annual Distinguished Faculty Lecture is open to the public and is free. The lecture will be held in SUU’s Auditorium on the northeast corner of campus.

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