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Faculty approves cybersecurity program

Faculty also disscusses upcoming Sciences Library renovation, consolidation of resources

Faculty members unanimously supported the institution of a new Executive Master’s Program in Cybersecurity at a faculty meeting Tuesday.

The proposal, presented by Roberto Tamassia, professor of computer science and chair of the department, will next be brought to the Corporation for approval at its May meeting.

The program will offer courses designed and taught by faculty members in the Department of Computer Science, many of whom have high levels of expertise in the field.

Administrators and faculty members also discussed renovations to the Sciences Library, implementation of recommendations in the Task Force on Sexual Assault’s December report and the University’s budget deficit.

The cybersecurity program will differ from similar pre-existing programs at other institutions in that it will focus on both current and future technologies, such as big data, cloud and social networks, as opposed to traditional desktop investigation, Tamassia said. Other distinguishing factors include a focus on the “human factor in cybersecurity,” attention to the “global, legal and policy perspective” and innovative teaching methods such as demonstrations of live cyber attacks, he added.

The program will be geared toward mid-career professionals who already have experience in the field, which could provide opportunities for undergraduates to make professional connections, Tamassia said.

The courses will use “blended learning” methods, which means they will be taught partly on campus and partly online. The program will also support the University financially, said President Christina Paxson P’19.

University Librarian Harriet Hemmasi also announced at the meeting that the SciLi will be renovated this summer. More than one million items have been removed from the stacks, a small number of which have been deacquisitioned. The stack space will be transformed into user space, and this shift parallels a re-envisioning of libraries across the country, she added. Large, less used items as well as bound volumes to which the University has online subscriptions are also being removed. All mathematics materials will remain due to the reliance of that department on physical texts.

Five floors of the library are involved in the renovation, and a core collection of 250,000 volumes will remain on floors 10 to 13.

Paxson told attendees that she approved almost all of the measures proposed in the Sexual Assault Task Force’s interim report. New University protocol will include better and more available information on the process of reporting and hearing sexual misconduct cases, as well as on interim sanctions. The use of external investigators, which has already been put into practice this semester, will be adopted as standard, she said. The University will also introduce changes to the appeals process and a reevaluation of the status of students who are found guilty of sexual misconduct during that time, she said.

The University has plans to expand the Title IX office and is currently in the final steps of the hiring process of a new Title IX coordinator, Paxson said. Expectations for faculty and staff will be elevated to reflect policy changes, and there will be “real, mandatory training, not ‘sort of mandatory’ training,” she said.

The deficit emerged as a key topic of concern for both Paxson and Eli Upfal, professor of computer science, who delivered a report from the University Resources Committee. The University has a “small but persistent deficit” of about 1 percent, which translates to a $4.4 million projected budget deficit for fiscal year 2016, Paxson said. The two primary factors contributing to this deficit are a reduction in research funding and an increase in the cost of undergraduate financial aid, she added. While research funding may be on the rise, financial aid costs still present a challenge, Paxson said.

But “Brown has never been in a stronger financial position” in terms of assets, which include holdings such as properties, Paxson said, though she noted that assets do not contribute to the calculation of the operational budget. “We have more assets than we have debt,” she added.

The University Resources Committee recommended an increase in budget, tuition, undergraduate class size, master’s programs and faculty and staff salaries, as well as structural budget changes.

The recent comprehensive budget review revealed several unnecessary expenditures, which the University can cut to begin to close the deficit, Upfal said. Additionally, the increase in undergraduate class size would be minimal, adding between 50 and 100 students to each class, he said, which would not drastically alter the student-professor ratio.

The University has set aside $717 million in a “nucleus fund” for a capital campaign that will likely be launched next fall, Paxson said. The campaign planning is currently in its early stages, but Paxson’s strategic plan “has been taken as our blueprint,” said Provost Vicki Colvin.

Paxson also addressed methods to aid research endeavors: committee efforts to look at both barriers for research proposals and incentives for submitting grants. Expected future changes will be streamlining the process of working with research administration, increasing seed funding for research that must gather preliminary data and policies that will allow scheduling flexibility for faculty members who need time to write large grants or travel to complete their research.

Paxson awarded four faculty members Faculty Service Awards: Andrew Campbell, associate professor of medical science, Nancy Jacobs, associate professor of history and Africana studies, Lewis Lipsitt, professor emeritus of psychology, medical science and human development, and Dietrich Neumann, professor of history of art and architecture, urban studies and Italian studies.

A working group is currently weighing the possibility of instituting a winter term and will seek feedback later this semester, said Kevin McLaughlin P’12, dean of the faculty. The committee is in the organizational stages,  reviewing information on peer institutions and feasibility. The committee will hold three separate information sessions this spring for faculty members, graduate students and undergraduates, he added.

Paxson’s strategic plan, “Building on Distinction,” aims to focus on “integrative scholarship themes,” McLaughlin said, adding that administrators want departments to increase in size and more actively facilitate interdisciplinary studies. The committee hopes that the “famous undergraduate culture of openness and versatility will lead to transdepartmental projects,” he said.

The faculty meeting also included two memorial minutes for Lee Ou Chieh-Fang, senior lecturer emerita in Chinese, and Rebecca Molholt Vanel, assistant professor of history of art and architecture.

The next faculty meeting will feature discussion on the option of introducing third tier lecturers, a title of special recognition for faculty members, said James Morone, director of the Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions and chair of the Faculty Executive Committee.

Faculty members will also vote next month on whether to adopt iClickers as a faculty meeting voting method, following last month’s “whole kerfuffle” in which attendees could not accurately count how many hand votes supported establishing ties to the College of the Holy Cross’ ROTC program, Morone said. “It’s embarrassing not to be able to count to 26,” he said. The voting faculty members practiced using iClickers during the meeting.


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