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Meeting of the Board of Regents | May 2007

Tuesday, May 1, 2007 - 11:00pm

sed seal                                                                                                 








Johanna Duncan-Poitier




Master Plan Amendment: Mercy College, Main and Bronx Campuses - Master of Science (M.S.), Information Assurance and Security


May 1, 2007


Goals 2 and 4






Issue for Decision (Consent Agenda)


Should the Board of Regents approve a master plan amendment to authorize Mercy College to offer a Master of Science (M.S.) program in Information Assurance and Security at its main campus and its Bronx branch campus?


Reason(s) for Consideration


Required by State regulation.


Proposed Handling


This question will come before the Higher Education and Professional Practice Committee at its May 2007 meeting where it will be voted on and action taken.  It will then come before the full Board at its May 2007 meeting for final action.


Procedural History


Mercy College submitted this proposal in November 2006. In March, the Department determined that the program, if approved, would meet registration standards.  A canvass was conducted of all colleges and universities in the Mid-Hudson region and New York City.   






Background Information


Master plan amendment approval is needed to authorize Mercy College’s first master’s degree programs in the Physical Sciences at the two campuses.   The Board of Regents chartered Mercy in 1952.  Its main campus is in Dobbs Ferry, Westchester County.  It has branch campuses in White Plains and Yorktown Heights, Westchester County, and in Manhattan and the Bronx.  In the fall of 2006, Mercy had 5,311 undergraduate and 3,809 graduate students across all five campuses.  At its main  and Bronx campuses, it offers Associate in Arts (A.A.), Associate in Science (A.S.), Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.), Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Master of Science (M.S.), and Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degree programs.  At the main campus, it also offers Master of Public Administration (M.P.A.) and Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) degree programs.


The proposed M.S. program would complement proposed B.S. programs in Information Assurance and Security at the two campuses (which do not require master plan amendment approval) and would contribute to dual-degree B.S./M.S. programs in that field at those campuses.  At both campuses, the College offers master’s degree programs in Business, Education, the Humanities, and the Social Sciences.  At the main campus, it also offers master’s degree programs in the Health Professions.  Mercy offers baccalaureate programs in computer and information sciences at both campuses.     


Mercy projects enrollment in the programs at both campuses to be a total of 15 students in the first year and 30 in the second and thereafter.  Most students are expected to come from the Mid-Hudson region and New York City.  Over half of Mercy’s students are members of minority groups and over 60 percent are female.


Need for the Proposed Programs.  Information systems are under constant threats from hackers, viruses, and worms.  The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook (2006-07 edition) states, “Concerns over ‘cyber security’ should result in businesses and government continuing to invest heavily in software that protects their networks and vital electronic infrastructure from attack.” 


Graduates would be able to monitor the use of security systems, including firewalls and intruder detection systems; create, implement, and oversee security policies; plan disaster recovery for operating systems, databases, networks, servers, and software applications; conduct research on emerging products, services, protocols, and standards in support of security enhancement and development efforts; test new security software and/or technologies; conduct regular compliance audits using a cross-divisional information security team; conduct research in information security-related fields that will prepare students for the possibility of doctoral study; and prepare them to take the Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification exam.





Securing cyberspace and the national information infrastructure is critical and can be achieved only when qualified workers are available.  The literature and announced job openings indicate a huge shortage of qualified workers in this field.  The Occupational Outlook Handbook states, “Workers with formal education or experience in information security . . . are in demand because of the growing need for their skills and services.”  A 2004 NSF-funded survey of employers found that 99 percent of the respondents felt such a need.  The College’s external reviewer of the proposed programs (a Long Island corporation’s manager of global information security) stated,


The importance of Information Assurance and Security has become paramount and pervasive throughout all industries in the modern interconnected world.  As such, the special focus of the program will be well received by the prospective students, faculty, and prospective employers with a fervor and candor not seen since the commercialization of the Internet.  Security professionals are among the most highly sought after professionals for small, medium, and large enterprises. 



Statewide, 57,280 persons were employed in related occupations in 2004, according to the State Department of Labor.  It projects statewide employment in those fields to grow by 28.3 percent by 2014, to 73,510; the average number of job openings is projected to be 2,450 per year.  In comparison, total employment, statewide, is projected to grow by only 7.4 percent over the same period.  Statewide projections are appropriate for employment prospects of persons with master’s degrees, because of their mobility; however, projections for the Hudson Valley and New York City are similar.


Effect on Other Institutions.  No institution in the Mid-Hudson region offers a master’s degree program in information security and only New York Institute of Technology does so in New York City.  NYIT’s program is in Manhattan.  However, Pace University states that it offers an information security track in the M.S. programs in Internet Technology in Manhattan and White Plains.


Nine colleges and universities responded to the canvass.  Six had no concerns or objections.  Globe Institute of Technology and Technical Career Institutes wrote in support of the programs as it provides opportunities for advanced training for graduates of their related associate degree programs who earn baccalaureate degrees.  Pace objected.


Pace stated that it offers an information assurance track in its M.S. programs in Internet Technology in Manhattan and White Plains and that it had the capacity to serve more than the 200 students now enrolled in the programs.  It saw no need for an additional program and believed that the proposed Mercy programs would have a detrimental effect on the programs it offers.  Subsequent to discussion with Mercy, however, Pace stated, “our programs can operate without competition in the metropolitan New York market,” and endorsed Mercy’s proposal.









It is recommended that the Board of Regents approve a master plan amendment to authorize Mercy College to offer a Master of Science (M.S.) program in Information Assurance and Security at its main campus and its Bronx branch campus.  This amendment will be effective until May 31, 2008, unless the Department registers the programs prior to that date, in which case master plan amendment shall be without term.  


Timetable for Implementation


If the Board approves this master plan amendment, the Department will register the programs and the College will proceed to recruit and enroll students.