The number of declared majors in the nation’s first college of emergency preparedness, homeland security and cybersecurity is 10 times higher than the University at Albany expected.
More than 360 students have declared a major in the UAlbany college as of July.
Dean Robert Griffin, the college’s first dean, said there is demand both on campus and in the business community for people trained in emergency management and cybersecurity. Local cybersecurity businesses find it hard to find skilled local employees have said to fill open jobs.
“When you start to look at where the field is going, it’s not just government, it’s industries starting to look at emergency management as a core executive function,” Griffin said. “When you look at cyber, it touches just about every element of our society.”
The 17,372-student university is looking to grow enrollment to 20,000 students by 2020. The college is a way to attract more students and to fill a growing need in the state.
“There’s an enormous appetite in the student body, there’s an enormous appetite in the business community and within the professional ranks,” Griffin said. “Part of the question now is, how do we meet the demand?”
The university will hire a number of faculty members for the college over the next few years. Griffin plans on developing internship opportunities, focus areas of research and a master’s and graduate program in emergency management.
The college partners with public agencies, private companies and nonprofits to provide out-of-the-classroom opportunities. It’s also looking to develop three to five focus areas that intersect different programs at the university.For example, the college is looking at opportunities to work with the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences for research on extreme weather.
The emergency preparedness college and atmospheric science programs will be housed in the same complex in the next few years. The university is constructing a technology and entrepreneurship complex with a completion date of 2020. The 236,000-square-foot building, located on 12 acres at the Harriman office campus in Albany, will also house researchers, entrepreneurs and investors. That will give students a chance to collaborate on research, Griffin said.
“When you start to think about the ability to co-locate industry, academia, our students practitioners together in the E-TEC facility, it’s a huge potential boost for the regional economy, and certainly for the university,” he said.