ATLANTA - The University System of Georgia is poised to add a new advanced degree in cybersecurity.

The Board of Regents’ Academic Affairs Committee voted Thursday to establish a master’s degree program in cybersecurity and privacy at the University of Georgia. If approved by the full board next week, the program would take effect April 14.

The UGA program would focus on the privacy concerns that have accompanied the growth of the cybersecurity industry, Martha Venn, the university system’s vice chancellor for academic affairs, told members of the committee during a meeting conducted by telephone.

Concerns over online privacy have been heightened during the coronavirus pandemic, as businesses and government agencies have become more reliant on communicating via the internet. For example, Google this week banned its employees from using the teleconferencing platform Zoom due to security concerns.

“We consider this a growing, emerging field,” Venn said. “We believe it will be a program that will attract a lot of students.”

UGA created its Institute for Cybersecurity and Privacy in 2017  in large part to meet the needs of the new U.S. Army Cyber Command headquarters at Fort Gordon near Augusta, the National Security Agency, Georgia’s rapidly growing financial transaction processing industry and the electronic medical records industry.

The new masters program will help provide a workforce to meet the cybersecurity needs of Georgia businesses, military installations and government agencies.

The program will require 30 credit hours for completion and require full-time enrollment.

While the new UGA program would offer the university system’s first masters degree in cybersecurity with an emphasis on privacy, Georgia Tech and Columbus State University currently feature cybersecurity programs with a master of science option.

In other business Thursday, the committee approved the creation of a Parkinson’s research professorship in honor of former U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. Isakson retired at the end of last year after 20 years in Congress due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.

The University of Georgia Foundation is funding the position with a donation of nearly $1 million.

The committee also voted to dedicate $2 million provided by the Georgia Tech Foundation to establish the John W. Young Chair to honor the late summa cum laude aerospace engineering graduate who became the ninth man to walk on the moon as the commander of Apollo 16.

Young flew six missions over four decades with NASA’s Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. He died in 2018 at the age of 87.


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