October 4, 2023

Lasky receives 2012 DETC Outstanding Graduate Award

Rick Lasky Award

From left to right: Rich Marinucci, president of the Regional Alliance for Firefighter Training; Robert Halton, editor of Fire Engineering magazine; Rick Lasky, DETC Outstanding Graduate; Robert Mayes, CSU president, and Billy Hayes, vice president of Marketing and Outreach at CSU.

In April, CSU associate degree graduate Rick Lasky was honored with the DETC Oustanding Graduate Award at the Fire Department Instructors Conference in Indianapolis.

“Rick is one of the shining examples of what it means to be a CSU student,” said Billy D. Hayes, CSU vice president of Marketing and Outreach. “He’s a recognized leader, popular speaker and force in the fire industry. His drive, commitment and determination to complete his degree despite some adversities is a testament of why he deserves this award.”

Lasky was among several students representing their universities to receive a special plaque. DETC conducts the outstanding graduate program each year to recognize the millions who study online. Selection criteria for award winners include the graduates’ academic records and the level and quality of their contributions to the society and to their profession.

Over the past 30 years, Lasky has achieved much including teaching for the University of Illinois-Illinois Fire Service Institute and the Illinois Fire Chiefs’ Association, receiving the 1996 International Society of Fire Service Instructors “Innovator of the Year” award for his part in developing the “Saving Our Own” program serving as the co-lead instructor for the H.O.T. Firefighter Survival program at FDIC for more than 10 years and writing a book, “Pride and Ownership-A Firefighter’s Love of the Job.”

Before his retirement in 2011, Lasky served as fire chief of the Lewisville (Texas) Fire Department for 11 years. During his tenure as chief, the Lewisville Fire Department expanded to seven stations and implemented several community-focused programs.

Oh, and he finished his associate degree in fire science with CSU in 2011– something he has wanted for many years.

The Illinois-native, who played professional baseball instead of going to college around age 18, has regretted not attending school during his younger years. However, after teaching and lecturing, Lasky said his interest in getting his degree rekindled.

“CSU had the best program for me and my busy lifestyle. Look, I was a full-time fire chief who lectured on my days off. I have a wife and two children who are busy with sports and activities, too. So I couldn’t make the move to take two or four years for college like those who are younger and have time. CSU’s online program was perfect for me,” said the 50 year old.

However, as Lasky began his endeavor, “my mom got sick and was dying of cancer and my dad was having surgeries,” he said. “I had to take a year off, and CSU had no problem with it. They supported me, they helped and they kept checking on me. Not in a pushy way, but concerned. They cared. The faculty and staff were really there for me.”

When he returned to classes, Lasky said CSU’s personal touch continued.

“My professors were awesome. For something that is online, there is so much more of a personal relationship. You wouldn’t think that you would have that kind of relationship online, but it happened. I know I got more support from Columbia Southern University than my son did from a major institution that he was actually at,” Lasky added.

Lasky is now teaching and consulting full-time and said his degree is helping. “It has enlightened me and made me a better person,” he said, adding that he is now working on his bachelor’s degree. “It has given me more confidence. I’m a fairly confident person and it has given me more confidence.”