UNO President Honored for Early Work Making Stadiums Safer

University of New Orleans President Peter J. Fos was honored last week for having established a national center that aims to make stadiums and sporting events safer.

The university president received the “Friends of NCS4” award on Wednesday from the National Center for Spectator Sports and Security at the University of Southern Mississippi, an internationally recognized interdisciplinary center that performs research, education and outreach focused on sporting event security. The award was presented at a reception held Wednesday, Aug. 1 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans as part of the 2012 National Sports Safety and Security Conference "Bridging the Gap Between Safety and Security."

Fos, who served as dean of the College of Health at Southern Miss, was recognized “as being the father of the center,” said Lou Marciani, executive director for the center. “Without his leadership, enthusiasm and encouragement, we wouldn’t have a center. He was a great dean here. His leadership really provided us the opportunity to be here today.”

As dean of the College of Health at Southern Miss, Fos was a visionary leader who, every step of the way, supported the efforts to build a national research center, supporters said.

“Enthusiastic, encourager, motivator, that’s who he is and we’re fortunate to have had the opportunity to have him at USM and particularly as the dean at the College of Health (where he helped) us to achieve our goal,” said Marciani, who served at the time as chair of USM’s School of Human Performance and Recreation.

The vision for a national center for spectator sports and stadium security followed the events of 9/11 and subsequent concerns about homeland security and terrorism, Marciani said. As federal homeland security grants became available, Fos encouraged Southern Miss faculty to continue to escalate their research and seek funding and training.

Over time, Southern Miss received extensive homeland security grants and other funds dedicated to safety and security, Marciani said. The University established the Center for Spectator Sport Security Management in 2006, with the goal of becoming a national resource center. Three years later, Fos had helped to drive and achieve that goal.

“What inspired us was there was a need at the time in the country to study safe stadiums,” said Marciani. “We began to really look at safe stadiums, see what the gaps were, mainly in training.”

New risk management tools and benchmark research have stemmed from the National Center for Spectator Sports and Security at the University of Southern Mississippi, where Fos remains a member of the center’s advisory board, Marciani said.

For more information on the National Center for Spectator Sports and Security at the University of Southern Mississippi, visit the organization’s website.