University of South Florida


Teacher stands at front of room with cybersecurity map

USF plans to launch college focused on artificial intelligence, cybersecurity and computing

By Adam Freeman, University Communications and Marketing

The University of South Florida has announced its intention to create a college focused on the rapidly evolving fields of artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity and computing, with the goal of positioning the Tampa Bay region and state of Florida as a national leader. USF is the first university in Florida and among the first in the nation to announce plans to create a college dedicated to AI and cybersecurity.

The vision for the college would be to offer undergraduate and graduate programs aligned with USF’s strategic plan and the state’s Programs of Strategic Emphasis to prepare students for high-demand careers, empower faculty to conduct innovative research that leads to new discoveries or technological advancements, grow industry partnerships and promote ethical considerations and trust throughout the digital transformation underway in society.  Research shows that there has been a five-fold increase in the demand for AI skills with jobs in the U.S., while more than 40% of organizations experiencing a shortage of cybersecurity professionals say they are unable to find enough qualified talent.

The creation of a new college would leverage USF's existing strengths and partnerships in AI, cybersecurity and computing, as well as its location in the Tampa Bay region, a hub for technology and defense industries.  At USF, there are approximately 200 faculty members currently engaged in research in related disciplines, which are seeing significant growth in funding awards.  Last year the National Science Foundation reportedly awarded more than $800 million for AI-related research.

"As AI and cybersecurity quickly evolve, the demand for professionals skilled in these areas continues to grow, along with the need for more research to better understand how to utilize powerful new technologies in ways that improve our society,” USF President Rhea Law said.  “Through the expertise of our faculty and our strong partnerships with the business community, the University of South Florida is strategically positioned to be a global leader in these fields.”  

The formation of a new college is subject to continued consultation with faculty through shared governance processes and approval from the USF Board of Trustees. In recent months, an internal task force has been evaluating USF’s faculty strengths and exploring opportunities to enhance multidisciplinary collaboration that will help advance USF’s academic and research excellence in AI, cybersecurity and computing. The addition of this new college would bring together expertise currently housed across several different colleges to serve as a complement to USF’s 13 existing colleges, which would remain operational and continue to be positioned for success.  

“Establishing this college would align with USF’s strategic initiative to enhance academic and research excellence in key areas of societal need and opportunity,” said USF Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Prasant Mohapatra. “By building on our multidisciplinary strengths, such as health, engineering, arts and humanities, and cybersecurity, we aim to support our strategic goals of advancing student success, promoting continuous professional growth, fostering industry, government and community partnerships, and propelling the university towards a top-25 ranking.”

More information is available here.

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