UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity Remains in High Demand

UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity Remains in High Demand

Dean Robert Griffin

Student demand for UAlbany’s first-in-the-nation College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC) is continuing to surpass all expectations.

The college will begin this semester with about 600 declared majors, 350 minors and 220 intended majors in its Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (EHC) program alone. When adding its major and minor in the Department of Informatics, along with graduate-level programs, the total student number jumps to close to 2,000.

110 majors were projected by this semester and 200 by 2020, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched the college in 2015.

To help meet demand, CEHC is hiring a number of new faculty, including three who start this semester:

  • Sam Jackson, assistant professor, comes from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. His research focuses on political and religious extremism in the United States.
  • Unal Tatar, assistant professor, has worked as a principal cybersecurity researcher in government and industry for 10-plus years. He comes to UAlbany after working as the coordinator of the National Computer Emergency Response Team of Turkey.
  • Alex Greer, assistant professor, worked as a research assistant at the University of Delaware’s Disaster Research Center. He conducts interdisciplinary, mixed methods research on a number of topics related to disaster science.

Behind the Numbers:

CEHC Dean Robert Griffin attributes the college’s success to a multitude of factors.

First, an increased need for professionals in emergency management and security. In 2012, there were approximately 10,000 emergency management specialists employed in the United States. By 2022, that number is expected to grow by between five and eight percent. Another study finds that cybersecurity will experience similar growth, with a projected 3.5 million open jobs by 2021.

The college’s commitment to developing a curriculum that blends classroom work and experiential learning is another big attractor, according to Griffin. Students in the EHC major are required to complete 100 hours of training through authentic simulations, field research, and work with partnering agencies, such as the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services and the University’s National Center for Security & Preparedness.

He also credits the diversity of his faculty, many of whom bring experience outside of academia. CEHC requires all faculty to teach undergraduate courses, including Griffin and his assistant deans.

All of it is helping to quickly grow the college’s reputation.

“We are bringing the power of academics to the field,” said Griffin, who served as the undersecretary for science and technology at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security before coming to UAlbany. “Our hands-on learning approach, combined with strong academic offerings, is how today’s students want to learn. The idea is to put academic theory into a practical application.”

“Our growth has been done with very little recruiting,” he added. “It’s mostly through word-of-mouth. Our students are telling family and friends about their experiences, and it’s speaking for itself.”

UAlbany's $180 million Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex (ETEC) is the future home of CEHC.
UAlbany's $180 million Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex (ETEC) is the future home of CEHC.

Next Steps:

Now housed on UAlbany’s Downtown Campus, the college will be one of the centerpieces of the University’s Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurship Complex (ETEC). The $180 million, 245,000-square-foot complex will combine CEHC’s students, faculty and staff with UAlbany’s atmospheric science and entrepreneurship programs. The University broke ground on the project in April 2018. The complex is slated for completion by 2021.

New degree options in game design and graduate programs in intelligence analysis, data analytics, and cybersecurity are expected to be approved as early as next semester. The college is also working to provide seamless transfer opportunities for students coming from local community colleges, as well as to finalize a dual degree program with Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev (BGU).

CEHC announced its designation as an “iSchool” organization earlier this summer.