Franklin appointed assistant vice chancellor for environmental health and safety


Lance Franklin, assistant vice president for environmental health and safety services at Virginia Tech, has been appointed assistant vice chancellor for environmental health and safety at Washington University in St. Louis, effective March 7, announced Shantay Bolton, executive vice chancellor for administration and chief administrative officer.

He will succeed Bruce Backus, who retired from the university March 1. Backus has mentored and collaborated with Franklin throughout his career.

With over 29 years of experience in environmental health and safety in higher education, Franklin has led several institutions in orchestrating compliance programs and maintaining a safe and compliant university environment. 

Franklin was selected after a nationwide search led by Jason Chretien, associate vice chancellor and Bolton’s chief of staff.

“Lance made a significant impact at Virginia Tech and the time is right to make a change and join WashU. He has met with a series of stakeholders on both the Danforth and Medical campuses with an overwhelmingly positive response and confidence in his ability to continue to build on the current program in a manner that supports our research trajectory. I am confident he is an ideal candidate of choice,” Bolton said.

Franklin served as director of environmental health and safety services at Virginia Tech from 2008-2016. He previously served as director and radiation safety officer and an adjunct professor in the College of Engineering at Wayne State University.

“Washington University in St. Louis has outstanding programs and innovative and transcending research in higher education,” Franklin said. “I am humbled and honored to serve the faculty, students, staff and community as well as be a partner in the university’s inspiring vision — together as a community, serving the greater good.”

Among other career accomplishments, Franklin received an environmental health and safety program award from the Campus Safety, Health and Environmental Management Association. 

A licensed engineer, Franklin earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry; two master’s degrees, one in occupational and environmental health sciences and the other in civil and environmental engineering; and a doctorate in civil and environmental engineering, all from Wayne State University.

Bruce Backus

Bruce Backus

Backus has been committed to the betterment of Washington University since he joined in 1998 as the director of environmental health and safety at the School of Medicine. In 2003, he became the assistant vice chancellor for environmental health and safety at the university. He is also an author and lecturer on safety and compliance.

Previously, he served as director of the environmental management facility, environmental compliance officer and assistant director of environmental health and safety at the University of Minnesota for 10 years.

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