NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Old Dominion University announced its School of Cybersecurity is set to open on the first day of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, October 1.

The school is the first of its kind across the nation as the first research university to offer an interdisciplinary degree program for both undergraduate and graduate students. The opening is in response to the program’s growth and increase in student interest in cybersecurity programs.

“We started with 11 students,” said Hongyi “Michael” Wu, director of CCSER who will lead the new school. “We now have roughly 800 students, so it made sense to create an academic unit to better support them in an education environment that they can call home.”

Expanding from the existing Center for Cybersecurity Education and Research (CCSER), the new school builds on the University’s efforts to offer cybersecurity expertise to Hampton Roads, the Commonwealth, and the nation.

“The School of Cybersecurity is a great example of ODU’s commitment to providing educational solutions to address real challenges in our region and the world,” President John R. Broderick said.

“It embraces an interdisciplinary foundation to expand the pipeline for a diverse group of cybersecurity, resilience, and engineering professionals who will be responsible for safeguarding our critical infrastructure,” he continued.

The school will operate under the Office of Academic Affairs and report to Brian Payne, vice provost for academic affairs. 

“This is the right time and ODU is the right institution to have such a unique school,” Payne said. “To fully realize the growth of tech talent in Virginia, it is imperative that we have a diverse pool of professionals able to help secure the technology. There are more than 54,000 cybersecurity jobs open in the state. We are preparing our students for these jobs.”

The university gained the designation of a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Operations Fundamental for 2019-2024 by the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2019. A designation in which only 21 bachelor’s programs across the country have — of those, only half offer a bachelor’s in cybersecurity.

The school “draws on Old Dominion’s well-established state and national recognition as a leader in cybersecurity workforce development,” Payne said. “This is an important step for ODU as it meets the needs of students while also offering a substantial positive impact on the Hampton Roads region, the state, and the nation.”

“For ODU, this is more than a name change,” he continued. “As the demand for cybersecurity education continues to increase, in addition to our ongoing research, we want to expand our focus on students to ensure they have the support they need to pursue these careers that are so critical to our nation’s workforce, particularly its economic and national security.”

Research funding will be used to hire research scientists in the upcoming year. In addition, more than three dozen faculty across campus will be affiliated with the school. 

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