ROCK SPRINGS – The Western Wyoming Community College Board of Trustees unanimously approved the creation of a new cybersecurity program at its Jan. 12 meeting, but no one will be able to enroll in the program at this time. The new program is tentatively expected to begin in the fall semester of 2023.
Dr. Cliff Wittsruck, Vice President of Student and Academic Affairs, asked the Board for approval of the Associate of Applied Science in Cybersecurity degree and the Cybersecurity Certificate program.
Wittstruck warned that Council approval is “just the first step” in the process needed before cybersecurity degree courses can begin. Other groups need to step in, including various academic officials and the “Higher Education Commission” before Western can begin offering the cybersecurity program. However, Wittstruck gave no indication that such approvals would be problematic. Funding must also be determined.
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The AAS degree in cybersecurity would require 60 course credits to complete. The cybersecurity certificate program would require 30 course credits to complete. The rationale for the certificate program, Wittstruck said, was that some students need to find jobs quickly.
Wittstruck reiterated information in the agenda item details that the proposed curriculum would include several computer science and information systems courses to prepare students for cybersecurity positions.
“There’s nearly 100% ‘cybersecurity job placement,'” Wittsruck said. jobs of this type that are not advertised.
Proposed AAS and cybersecurity certificate programs will be submitted to the Wyoming Community College Commission for review. Western will be the first community college in Wyoming to offer AAS and cybersecurity certificate programs.
Part-time students now using on-campus accommodation
Dean of Students Dr Dustin Conover presented his “Housing and Student Life Annual Report” to the board. Conover mentioned that his new office is closer to the central part of the West Campus, and therefore more convenient for connecting with students. Conover added that following
Board approval for part-time students to live in on-campus accommodation, there were now 45 students taking less than 12 credits currently living in student accommodation. Part-time students will help ensure fuller occupancy of campus residential accommodations, Conover said.
“These students probably wouldn’t live in student residences” without Council approval for part-time students to live in western residence halls, Conover pointed out.
Conover added that Aspen Hall would likely help host visiting sports teams at a reduced rate. Students who require temporary on-campus accommodation, such as students taking online classes but may need to attend an on-campus lab session, for example, would also benefit from the option Aspen.
“Western Welcome” is a new program for incoming students, Conover explained. The program is intended to provide updates and information to new students between the high points of application, acceptance, registration and the first day of classes.
Another new idea being implemented is the “Thunder into the weekend” initiative, Conover said, which encourages Western students, faculty and staff to wear Western-themed clothing on Fridays.
Apps on the rise, but numbers incomplete
Dr. Eric Fry, Dean of Enrollment Management, told administrators that enrollment requests were up 7% for the fall 2023 semester, but he cautioned that the current and projected enrollment numbers were preliminary and will not be the final numbers.
“They can’t all sign up,” Fry said, for a number of reasons. There are five counties in the Western Wyoming Community College district, he added, and some high schools in the district require their seniors to apply to Western even if they don’t intend to enroll in Western.
The number of high school students taking dual-enrollment classes at Western during the spring semester is also yet to be determined.
Overall, however, the number of applications and registrations was “positive,” Fry said.
Chairman of the board resigns
The January 12 meeting of the Western Board of Trustees was chaired by Vice Chairman James Jessen. Board chair Dr. Veronica Donaldson did not attend the meeting and Jessen presented her letter of resignation to the board for approval. Donaldson said in her letter that she was leaving “with a heavy heart” and her home in Rock Springs is already sold.
The board unanimously accepted Donaldson’s resignation. Information on how to submit a letter of interest to apply for the vacant Board position will be published in local media. The next board meeting is scheduled for February. 9.