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GSU seeks to become first in state to offer cloud computing degree

By Ian Robinson
On October 10, 2019

Grambling State University is currently in the initial stages to offer a bachelor’s degree in cloud computing. 

Grambling would not only be the first in the state of Louisiana to offer a degree in cloud computing, but also the first historically black university to offer the degree. 

“Right now, we are in the initial stages,” said Dr. Connie Walton, interim provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Grambling State University. 

Walton said that the process for getting a new degree approved includes presenting two documents. 

“One is called the letter of intent,” said Walton. “A letter of intent is meant to announce to the University of Louisiana System and the Board of Regents your attempt to develop a new degree program and get approval.”

Dr. Y.B. Reddy, program coordinator for the Computer Science Department, wrote the letter of intent for the degree. 

“In the letter of intent, it’s not as many details as in a proposal, but yet, there are a lot of details,” Walton said. “You have to address the curriculum, the workforce needs in the state, as the well as the regional, and you look at what’s offered at other universities.” 

Walton said once the letter of intent is approved, a proposal is written, focusing on the new degree program, which has to be approved by the University of Louisiana System, the Board of Regents, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Committee on Colleges. 

Walton said that GSU President Rick Gallot was approached by representatives from Amazon Web Services. 

“I got a call from Dr. Jim Henderson, the president of the University of Louisiana System,” Gallot said. 

Gallot also said that Grambling will be participating in two different consortiums. One consortium consists of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, as well as other schools within the University of Louisiana System, the University of New Orleans and Southeastern Louisiana University. The other consortium is an HBCU initiative geared toward cloud computing.

The other schools include Morgan State University, North Carolina A&T University, Bowie State University, as well as Tougaloo College. “I went to Washington, met with the Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy and his team,” Gallot said.

Reddy participated in a series of workshops, alongside GSU Vice President of Institutional Advancement Marc Newman, GSU Vice President of Information Technology Peggy Hanley, and GSU computer science graduate Alana Ward Robinson, focusing on developing the curriculum of cloud computing.

“First, we studied cloud computing and benefits to the students,” said Reedy.

Reedy said that benefits to students include no more use of expensive textbooks as cloud-based textbooks are less expensive. Another benefit is that students will not have to necessarily sit in classrooms or a physical lab, but can learn in different locations and can use the Amazon voice app Alexa as a tool. Walton said that students in the cloud computing program will also take nine hours of courses within cybersecurity.

“We will be on the agenda for the October board meeting and everything appears to be on-go to get that approval,” Gallot said. 

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