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USF Proposes State's First College for AI and Cybersecurity

Pending approval by the its board of trustees, the University of South Florida plans to enlist existing faculty to lead new undergraduate and graduate programs, certifications and continuing education options.

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(TNS) — The University of South Florida announced plans Thursday to launch the first college of artificial intelligence and cybersecurity in the state.

The college, which is still subject to approval by the USF board of trustees, would offer undergraduate and graduate programs in addition to certifications and continuing education options. It would also bring together existing faculty at the university who research AI, cybersecurity and computing.

A USF news release said about 200 USF faculty members are already doing research in related subjects.

The release said the U.S. has seen “a five-fold increase in the demand for AI skills.” It also said last year the National Science Foundation awarded more than $800 million for AI-related research.

In 2020, the University of Florida announced a plan to incorporate AI into the curriculum of every graduating student after a $70 million gift.

“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 in the release. “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.”

A task force, including faculty and the provost, was assembled and plans to put out an initial report. University officials hopes to launch the college by fall 2025 and are still exploring what the structure may look like, and if a new dean will be needed.

The task force will seek further input from faculty and other stakeholders, the release said.

This is a developing story and may be updated.

Divya Kumar covers higher education for the Tampa Bay Times, in partnership with Open Campus.

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