Regents approve two new degree programs during meeting at WSU Tri‑Cities

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Two new degree programs were approved Friday by the WSU Board of Regents, which also agreed to tighten the undergraduate housing policy on the Pullman campus.

The first of the new degrees is a Bachelor of Science in cybersecurity, which will be available to students on the WSU Everett, Pullman and Tri‑Cities campuses. The program will help meet projected demand in Washington for professionals capable of protecting against modern cybersecurity threats, and was endorsed by state lawmakers with a $2 million commitment in the 2022 state supplemental budget.

The degree will be offered through the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture and complements the university’s existing software engineering and computer science programs. The program’s approval by Faculty Senate and the Board of Regents ensures the cybersecurity degree program will be offered beginning this fall.

The other is a bachelor of science in pharmaceutical and medical sciences, the result of a collaboration between the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

“It’s really rare for a student to be able to take courses across those two disciplines — there’s only a few places where one can do that — so it’s a really innovative proposal, and really a springboard for undergraduate students to then enter the health professions and attend professional schools as well,” Elizabeth Chilton, provost and executive vice president, said Thursday while presenting the agenda item.

The degree will help to launch students into healthcare-focused professional programs, strengthen WSU’s existing graduate program, serve as a catalyst for biotech workforce development in Spokane, and provide a path for graduates of Community Colleges of Spokane who want to stay close to home.

Regents also voted to approve revisions to the university’s undergraduate housing requirement, eliminating an exemption that allowed first‑year students to request an exemption to live in fraternity or sorority houses. Approximately 250–260 students on average used the exemption each year prior to the pandemic, Ellen Taylor, vice chancellor for Student Affairs, told regents during Thursday’s Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting.

By eliminating the exemption, WSU aims to improve its ability to respond to emerging student needs and ensure all first‑year students have access to support services and mentorship available within the residence halls on the Pullman campus.

Small revisions to the WSU Board of Regents bylaws were also approved Friday by the regents, who were meeting on the WSU Tri‑Cities campus.

Regents also received updates from leaders across the WSU system, including presentations from President Kirk Schulz and Sandra Haynes, chancellor of the WSU Tri‑Cities campus. Schulz discussed his recent trip to Nairobi and opportunities to expand the university’s educational offerings in the country, as well as his recent updates on finances, institutional prestige and enrollment. He also recognized the historic success of WSU’s Women’s Basketball program, which won its first‑ever Pac‑12 Championship tournament earlier this month.

Schulz also acknowledge changes in leadership within the Office of External Affairs and Government relations, which recently saw the appointment of Chris Mulick as interim director. Mulick has served as WSU’s director of state relations since 2010. He succeeds Colleen Kerr, who led WSU’s external affairs and government relations efforts for more than a decade. Kerr’s achievements were recognized by the board during Friday’s meeting with a formal commendation as well as praise from Schulz and regents.

Haynes gave regents updates on recent events at the WSU Tri‑Cities campus, which included a visit from Gov. Jay Inslee, who is looking for state funding to support WSU Tri‑Cities Institute for Northwest Energy Futures.

The entire WSU Board of Regents meeting is available to watch online. The next meetings of the WSU Board of Regents are scheduled for May 4–5 on the WSU Spokane campus.

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