Published February 12, 2017
As I look back on the last year, I am reminded of a phrase that we use at Bay Path University to describe and define our academic programs, one that is also intrinsically linked to the learning experiences we provide our students: For a Constantly Changing World. We began using these words several years ago, not realizing that their intentions, instead of fading with time, would become increasingly relevant. In Thomas Friedman’s latest book, Thank You for Being Late, he states “…we have entered an age of dizzying acceleration…” and it is not going to slow down. Today, the challenge for all of us, including academic institutions such as Bay Path, is to keep up with the incredible pace of technological innovations, the new ways of doing business, and the pressures of globalization that require us to be nimble in action and inclusive in both community and thought.
What are the implications for higher education? For Bay Path University? We have to be adaptable, accessible, and flexible, not only in developing academic programs in response to the needs of students and the changing workplace, but also in how we deliver them. This means online and on-ground, year-round, days, nights, weekends—we have to meet students where they are. Higher education has to be prepared to migrate to new “classrooms,” such as our SOUL (Social Online Universal Learning) platform at our American Women’s College online, which uses a data-driven approach intended to make a student's college experience more personal and supportive.
Careers for Women in 2017 and Beyond
Equally important, colleges and universities must collaborate and partner with businesses and organizations to provide the talent pipeline they need for emerging fields that have tremendous job growth potential, both regionally and nationally. Ten years ago, I never would have imagined that in our Bay Path classrooms we would be teaching degree programs like the Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management, Master of Science in Applied Data Science, Master of Science in Genetic Counseling, neuroscience, digital forensics, and digital marketing management. Bay Path developed these programs to fulfill our role in helping prepare employees who safeguard our national security, contribute to a healthy business bottom line, and ensure that all of us have the best healthcare possible. But these new types of positions, including cybersecurity experts, big data analysts, or genetic counselors are going unfilled. In 2016, there were more than 209,000 cybersecurity jobs left open in the United States. And according to a McKinsey Global Institute Report, by 2018, the United States could face a shortage of 140,000 to 190,000 people with deep analytical skills, as well as 1.5 million managers and analysts with the know-how to use the analysis of big data to make effective decisions. Bay Path has and will continue to address this employment gap with degrees and certificates that prepare students for the realities of today’s workplace, as well as the workplace of the future—one that we know will require constant retooling through education as careers and fields evolve almost overnight. And there is one more mandate Bay Path continues to embrace. We are an institution committed to educating women.
At Bay Path, our mission of educating women has purpose and relevancy in our world. From propelling young women to enter STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, to working with the Department of Homeland Security to encourage women to be cybersecurity experts, our responsibility is to make sure that women maximize their potential in and out of the workplace. Recently, Bay Path’s continual efforts to educate women in the fields of cybersecurity, cybersecurity management, and counter-terrorism at both the graduate and undergraduate levels attracted national attention. In October 2016, I was sworn in by the Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh C. Johnson to serve on the Department of Homeland Security’s Academic Advisory Council. This recognition was due in great part to our efforts to educate women in these important fields.
The Department of Homeland Security, like many other organizations and companies in our country, recognizes the importance of gender diversity. Women and men bring different strengths to the workplace. The most successful organizations support, engage, and develop all their employees by creating an environment where all their workers are empowered and collaborative.
Women’s Colleges and Universities are Still Relevant
For decades, Bay Path has taken a thoughtful, practical approach to advancing the role of women by emphasizing leadership, career preparation, and hands-on, relevant learning. Today, our undergraduate student body consists of over 70% first-generation college students, and 38% women of color. Our students reflect the multicultural diversity of America, and their success will in turn impact their families, communities, companies, and even our country. At Bay Path, we prepare our students to flourish in this constantly changing world, not because we have to, but because we must. There is much at stake. There is work to be done.