Cyber security major approved: what new programs will be next?

With the new cyber security major approved, what other majors will Guilford College be adding?

For years, Guilford has generally held the line on the number of majors and minors; former President Kent Chabotar thought the academic program over-extended. However, this policy changed when President Jane Fernandes took office.

Despte budget and enrollment issues, Fernandes encouraged faculty to devise creative and distinctive programs for a more interesting curriculum.

“We’re thinking about new majors so that we can both recruit new students and retain existing students,” said Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean Beth Rushing.

New majors and minors do not get added easily. Several steps precede formal approval.

“Faculty who want to propose a new major or minor write a proposal that outlines the argument for adding that program,” said Rushing. “(Proposals normally include) why students would find it appealing, how it fits Guilford’s mission and values, the proposed curriculum and the resources needed to implement the program.”

The proposal must survive careful review by the Curriculum Committee and then the Clerk’s Committee before heading to the full faculty for discussion and possible approval.

Guilford’s new cyber and network security major shows prospective students that Guilford chooses “hot and distinctive” majors, majors that differentiate Guilford from other colleges in the area.

“We really wanted to create a major that would be in demand but that would be distinctly Guilford,” said Associate Professor of Justice and Policy Studies Will Pizio. “For example, almost all of the similar majors out there are purely technical ones. All the courses are ones where they learn the computer skills associated with network security and computer forensics.

“While we have those courses as well, we also have elective courses in accounting, justice and policy studies, philosophy, and political science to give the student context and a liberal arts background to go with the technical skills they’ll gain.”

New majors could burden the College’s already strained budget, especially if existing programs are not cut. But Rushing said, “(There are not) any plans to eliminate existing majors or minors right now.”

Over the summer, Guilford also approved the leadership studies minor, as part of the Principled Problem Solving Experience. Like the new cyber security major, the minor represents a focus on more specific and distinctive studies.

“Leadership is both overhyped and underdeveloped in our society as a whole,” said Mark Justad, director of the Center for Principled Problem Solving to the Guilford Beacon. “And, sadly, the term ‘leadership’ is often disconnected from our efforts to change our world for the better. This minor will help students understand better how to connect these two things when they move beyond Guilford.”

Not only does it intend to stimulate thinking on an active level, the minor aims to benefit anyone with post-Guilford plans.

“The National Association of Colleges and Employers cites leadership as the top skill employers seek on the resumes of recent college graduates,” said Assistant Dean of Career & Community Learning Alan Mueller to the Guilford Beacon.

Meanwhile, on Dec. 2, the faculty approved in principle a new sustainable food systems major.