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Lack of funding hinders pursuit of cybersecurity program at MSSU

  • 2018-07-03 17:05
  • 아시아뉴스통신=Ian Maclang 기자
Photo by: HypnoArt / Pixabay
The primary barrier standing between Missouri Southern State University and a degree program in the emerging field of cybersecurity is funding, administrators told the Board of Governors during a retreat on Wednesday morning.


"Frankly, it is No. 1 on our list of things to do as soon as we can afford it," said Paula Phillips Carson, provost and vice president for academic affairs.


Carson said that since MSSU has in place a robust health sciences department, which for years was its primary emphasis in light of the arrival of the Joplin campus of the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences, its next priority academically is to beef up its computer science and IT offerings.She said the demand from both students and employers is there, particularly in the area of cybersecurity, or protecting computer systems from attacks or theft.


Carson said Missouri Southern has already explored possible locations for housing the program — the old public library at 300 S.Main St.was an option at one time — and had begun recruiting faculty. But efforts slowed once administrators realized the sticker shock that came with hiring and paying quality faculty in the field of computer science.


In order to be competitive, Missouri Southern would have to offer a salary of $130,000 to $150,000 per employee for three or four faculty members, Carson said.


"The only thing we need is the fiscal resources to attract quality faculty," she said.


There was no discussion Wednesday about whether there was still interest in the library building downtown.


Funding for higher education has been tight in recent years, and particularly in the past year. Gov.Eric Greitens withheld approximately $1.7 million from MSSU's total appropriation of about $24.5 million for the current fiscal year and planned to cut about $2.2 million from the $25.3 million that the university expected to receive in core appropriations for fiscal year 2018, which begins July 1.


To combat the cuts, Missouri Southern previously adopted a budget for the 2017-18 academic year that anticipates a deficit of approximately $800,000.And administrators earlier this spring eliminated 13 full-time positions, either through terminations or not filling existing vacancies, and six student-centered programs.


But the cybersecurity degree program remains on the wish list.


Board members noted that some Missouri colleges and universities have already hopped on the cybersecurity trend.Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar will offer a bachelor of science degree in cybersecurity beginning this fall, while Missouri State University in Springfield offers a graduate program in the field.


Administrators cautioned that Missouri Southern, if it chooses to pursue the program, would likely have to find the financial resources for it on its own.President Alan Marble said it's unlikely that such a program could be subsidized by the state given the current financial climate.


He pointed to Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, which had requested $100,000 for its cybersecurity degree program from the state this year.Citing the need to make cuts in order to balance Missouri's budget, Greitens earlier this spring rejected that funding request.


"It's a signal to us" that similar requests from the state might not be funded, Marble said.


Protections


Michael Franks, a member of the Board of Governors at Missouri Southern State University, recommended during Wednesday's retreat that the university begin investing in ways to prepare for potential cyberattacks.


"You'll find it all but impossible to have your internal resources be adequate," he said, adding that he was not criticizing the university's current IT team and that it's difficult to predict the next iteration of hacks or viruses. "We will have a breach someday. ...We need to have a plan.It's like any other disaster preparedness plan."

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