Chair’s Message | Intercollege Academic Model Taking Form

April 2, 2021

Dear Cybersecurity and Privacy community,

Who ultimately oversees this new school that runs point for cybersecurity and privacy education activity on behalf of all the academic colleges at Georgia Tech? This is a question that comes up frequently as we build the model for an intercollege academic unit.

SCP has an administrative home in the College of Computing, which means we have only one set of rules and procedures to follow (trust me, Georgia Tech has lots of rules). Dean Charles Isbell is my boss. But I am also accountable to the Council of Deans of the remaining five colleges, library, and professional education. Like equity shareholders of a startup, they have invested in SCP and have a stake in our success.

When I was asked to become the interim chair and help launch SCP, I was careful to inquire about whether that means I report to eight bosses (nine, if you count the Provost, to whom all the deans report). As a former dean, I am well-versed in the university art of tending to investments of scarce academic resources. I knew that they didn’t all want the same things all the time, so I did not relish the idea of trying to please them all.

Charles was convincingly reassuring: “No, you will not have eight bosses,” he said. The shareholder/start-up analogy should have occurred to me right away. It would have helped quiet the annoying, ever-skeptical little voice in my head.

On the other hand, I do take the responsibility of regular reporting to the Council seriously. I do that with letters like this one. In fact, some of the deans read my weekly letters to keep up with what’s happening in SCP. I thought this week it would be fun to turn the tables and give you a preview of what I will be telling the Council in my end-of-the-semester report.

  • The SCP faculty met on Tuesday. It was our third monthly business meeting. I noted at the meeting that the school is on track to begin operations in August to coincide with the 2021-22 school year. This means all essential administrative functions are staffed and academic matters are being governed by committees.
  • We are being deliberate in naming the founding faculty members. There are 23 active requests from other units for positions in SCP (most of them for joint appointments). Here is the breakdown:
    • Computer Science – 7
    • Interactive Computing – 2
    • Computational Science & Engineering – 1
    • Electrical and Computer Engineering – 4
    • Public Policy and Sam Nunn School – 5
    • Scheller College of Business – 2
    • GTRI -2
  • I have appointed Alexandra “Sasha” Boldyreva as the SCP associate chair for graduate education. This reflects the importance of the master’s and PhD programs to the school. Sasha had a similar role in the School of Computer Science, and she is an experienced leader in supporting graduate students.
  • The Institute for Information Security and Privacy (IISP) – Georgia Tech’s research arm in these areas – will become part of SCP by the start of the fiscal year. IISP has been an engine driving the growth of cybersecurity and privacy research and innovation. IISP Executive Director and Professor Wenke Lee will continue in his leadership role.  
  • A timeline for the SCP chair search has been laid out by search chair and Professor Mark Riedl of Interactive Computing. The job announcement will go out shortly and by September the search committee hopes to deliver final recommendations. Finding the right candidate is critical to the school’s future success. I’ve talked previously about developing the school’s culture and the new chair will play a large part in defining that. Based on the faculty discussion, the search committee won’t have any shortage of input, but I encourage you to reach out and engage in the endeavor.
  • The curriculum committee will shortly deliver a recommendation for an undergraduate thread in cybersecurity starting fall semester. The group has identified this as an important need that aligns with the computer science and the electrical and computer engineering undergraduate programs, both of which include threaded curriculums.
  • The Georgia Cybersecurity and Privacy Roadmap Taskforce is bringing together industry stakeholders for our second workshop later this spring to identify workforce gaps in cyber-related jobs and careers. The first workshop surfaced interesting perspectives from the education sector, including discussion from University System of Georgia officials on how we might innovate to serve more students.

Balancing all the needs of a new school has taken the commitment of more people than I can name in this column, but their work is starting to pay dividends. I look forward to continuing the momentum we’ve built and identifying together where we head next.

As always, thanks for reading, and come say “hi” at my weekly virtual open office hour, Fridays at 1 pm ET. You can find out more ways to get involved with the school by visiting us online.


Richard DeMillo
Charlotte B. and Roger C. Warren Chair of Computing 
Chair, School of Cybersecurity and Privacy 

Visit me at  
Follow me on Twitter @rad_atl and @richde