Students return to in-person classes
by Olga Peters, Vermont Business Magazine Since 1999, Norwich University has dug deep into cyber security education. In September, the University received a grant to lead the Department of Defense Cyber Institute, which trains students in cybersecurity.
As part of the two-year, $18.5 million grant from the National Security Agency, Norwich will continue to lead the cyber institutes at six Senior Military Colleges. Along with Norwich, the colleges include The Citadel, University of North Georgia, Virginia Tech, Texas A&M, and Virginia Military Institute.
“This field of study is exactly what Norwich was founded to do, which is to teach by doing and to educate future leaders to both build and defend the republic,” said Kathleen A Murphy Moriarty, vice president of Marketing and Communications.
As the lead institution, Norwich University will utilize $4.25 million of the grant over the next two years.
Dr Mike Battig will continue directing the Norwich University Cyber Institute. This program fosters academic, experiential, and educational infrastructure across all six Senior Military Colleges that is intended to prepare professionals for potential military and civilian DoD cyber workforce, Norwich explained in a press release.
“Cybersecurity is a major threat in every industry across the globe, so the more partnerships we can build with industry to grow our curriculum to teach how to manage real-world threats, the better,” she added.
The DOD Cyber institute provides hands-on learning for students through internships. A few Norwich students are interning at what Murphy Moriarty called the University’s “Security Situation Center” at the Norwich University Applied Research Institutes (NUARI).
“The NUARI SSC shares and receives information from federal and state law enforcement partners/agencies for increased protection against threat actors,” said Murphy Moriarty. “This mutual transparency enables us to take a more proactive approach to cyber threats on the networks we serve.”
The 2021-2022 academic year, in general, is going full steam.
Students and faculty have returned to campus and are accessing in-person instruction and labs, Corps leadership and physical fitness training, competitive athletics, said Murphy Moriarty.
“Enrollment is about level with the past three years for our undergraduate program and slightly ahead for our online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, certificates and professional development programs through our online College of Graduate and Continuing Studies,” she wrote in an email.
Norwich has instituted a university vaccination mandate with exemptions for medical or religious reasons as part of its COVID-19 protocols. The University also has an indoor masking policy.
“The pandemic definitely put a lot of stress on our students as well as the university last year,” she wrote. “Additional investments were made to add resources and expertise in our Counseling and Wellness Center, Academic Achievement Center, and the Writing Center; all, together with the International Center, are fielding more calls for support from students.”
According to Murphy Moriarty, 96.9 percent of faculty and staff and 91.4 percent of students are vaccinated. An indoor masking policy is in place for all buildings on campus.
“We are conducting about 300 tests per week on campus and are sharing that data on our reporting dashboard: norwich.edu/covid-19-dashboard,” she wrote. “We recently hosted a COVID-19 and flu vaccination clinic on campus for students and employees.”
While the pandemic hasn’t changed how the University teaches online classes, it did need to support several faculty members as they reworked their courses to accommodate online learning.
Students have told the University that they like the flexibility of taking in-person and some virtual classes. Norwich has returned to mostly in-person teaching, but Murphy Moriarty noted that the University had expanded its online offerings.
“We do now offer more virtual classes than pre-COVID and also allow students to take more classes from CGCS that count towards their degree requirements,” she said. “This facilitates more study-abroad, internship and CityLab opportunities for students who wish to couple their academic journey with hands-on experiential learning opportunities across the US or around the world.”
The College of Graduate and Continuing Studies has also expanded the number of certificates, courses, and micro certificates it offers through Norwich Pro (Pro.Norwich.edu).
“New degree programs in healthcare will be coming online, and an accelerated RN to BSN degree is now offered to fuel the shortage of training nursing professionals nationwide,” Murphy Moriarty said.
The University’s Criminal Justice program and programs such as Engineering and Construction Management, Computer Security and Information Assurance, Nursing, Architectural Studies, Psychology, and Management remain the most popular majors of study, she noted.
Reflecting on potential challenges and opportunities ahead for Norwich, Murphy Moriarty noted that higher education is struggling as an industry for various reasons.
“The main one being the demographic cliff we are about to head over,” she said.
“There are fewer upcoming college-aged students,” she continued. “So, the challenge is to remain relevant and to offer something that our future leaders – whether in the military or the private sector or as civil servants – need in order to contribute to and lead in solving global, complex problems.”
In Murphy Moriarty’s eyes, this challenge is also an excellent opportunity for Norwich.
She said that Norwich can adapt to market needs because it is a private university. She said that students in the school’s professional programs studying fields such as engineering, nursing, or architecture receive a top-level education.
“Additionally, 84% of our students are engaged in community service, in keeping with our university’s guiding values,” she said. “We find our students actively involved in food drives, Special Olympics, building affordable housing for homeless and those in need in our community.”
Olga Peters is a freelance writer from Windham County.