Forward Progress: A Glance at USM’s Next Century

As the University of Saint Mary celebrates 100 years of Educating with a Deeper Purpose, we look to the future. The next century presents many challenges for the higher education industry, but USM has great opportunities to continue to thrive.

Staying true to the vision of our founders – Saint Mary has developed ambitious plans.

In the coming years, USM will build and enhance programs to address some of society’s greatest needs. As we prepare students for the challenges of the future, we remain committed to affordability. Our goal is to decrease students’ financial shortfalls, ensuring a high-quality, USM education is available to anyone with the capacity and desire to succeed.

Cybersecurity Center for Excellence

USM’s Bachelor of Science in Cybersecurity program addresses the nation’s growing needs in cybersecurity and cyber defense. Companies across the country are increasing their investments in security measures to protect their assets and customers. 

Our mission is to create and maintain a top-tier cybersecurity training and education program, which will be housed in Miege Hall. The USM Cybersecurity Center for Excellence will provide classroom space that allows for hands-on training, active practice, and opportunities for students to meet outside of class times. Coursework will be enhanced through theoretical and practical knowledge, and the lab space can help USM toward its goal of becoming a National Security Agency-recognized National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.

The university’s fundraising plans include support for student scholarships, summer camps, and capital expenses. Renovations on the first classroom will begin over the summer, a second classroom renovation is planned for the 2023-24 academic year, and offices and a third classroom are outlined for 2024-25.

With the project, USM has recruited corporate partners and an advisory board, which includes Aaron Weissenfluh, C’95, president and chief operating officer of Tenfold Security. 

“Saint Mary is setting the standard of having tons of real-world experience on emerging technologies, leading-edge devices, and different security protocols,” Weissenfluh said. “Students can have four years of real-world security experience, which nobody else provides right now.”

Program Partners:

Tenfold Security

Polsinelli Law Firm, LLC

Advisory Board Members:

Jon Broek – Owner/CEO, Tenfold Security

James Costello, C’94 – Professional Services Architect, Palo Alto Networks

Corey Hamilton, U’03 – Partner, IBM Security Services

Laura L. Hill, C’98 – Assistant Chief Information Officer, U.S. Forestry Service

Nathan Petty, U’17 – Vice President IT & Technology Officer, Citizens Federal Savings Bank

Kelly Rivera, C’84 – Configuration Analyst Staff, Lockheed Martin

Wai Sheng Cheng – Information Security Manager, Spencer Fane LLP

Aaron Weissenfluh, C’95 – President/COO, Tenfold Security

First-Generation Scholars Program

At institutions of higher learning throughout the United States, first-generation college students from households with low incomes graduate at a significantly lower rate than their peers. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, only 11 percent of these students earn bachelor’s degrees within six years of entering college. In comparison, 55 percent of students who do not fit this profile will secure their degree in that same amount of time.

To assist these students, the University of Saint Mary launched the First-Generation Scholars program in the fall of 2021. The primary goals are to provide academic and economic support while also increasing the retention rate from 55 to 75 percent by the 2025-26 academic year.

Currently, 37 percent of USM undergraduates are first-generation learners, and 58.2 percent are Pell Grant eligible. Nearly 160 students are actively participating in the First-Generation Scholars Program.

Scholars meet weekly throughout the school year for skills seminars covering a wide range of topics that empower academic success, career readiness, and fiscal responsibility. The program meets the dual needs of students by providing a support system and financial resources, including an annual $2,000 scholarship for active program participation.

To support the Cybersecurity Center for Excellence or the First-Generations Scholars Program, please call University Advancement at 913-758-6326.

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