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John Brown University will grow its cybersecurity program and help develop local talent to meet workforce needs with a $6.5 million grant from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, the university announced earlier this month.

The grant will establish an endowment with $3 million designated for student scholarships, $2 million for technology and $1.5 million for a full-time program faculty.

“There is a critical need for cybersecurity professionals in Arkansas,” said JBU President Chip Pollard. “JBU undergraduate and master-level students will benefit greatly from the dedicated faculty, the up-to-date software and hardware, and the scholarships this generous grant provides.”

In 2020, JBU became the only university in Northwest Arkansas to offer a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity. The program has approximately doubled its student numbers each fall.

JBU’s bachelor of science in cybersecurity is available in the university’s traditional on-campus program and a fully online format designed for working adults. The school also offers MBA and M.S. programs in cybersecurity, which students can start during their undergraduate studies and complete in just one additional year through JBU’s accelerated master’s program.

Cyberattacks against governments and businesses of all kinds are constantly in the headlines, frequently costing businesses tens of thousands of dollars, and thousands of cybersecurity jobs are open in Arkansas right now.

“JBU’s holistic approach to education empowers our graduates to master not just the technical knowledge but also develop the ability to solve problems, think critically and communicate thoughtfully,” said Ted Song, Ph.D., chief innovation officer at JBU. “Industry leaders tell us that JBU graduates have the soft skills that make them great leaders as they grow in the profession.”

CareersNWA, the workforce development side of the Northwest Arkansas Council, partners with organizations like JBU and the Walton Family Foundation to help build computer science education and apprenticeship programs, setting the stage for grants like the one announced this month.

“We have enjoyed collaborating and partnering with JBU over the years,” said Joe Rollins, the Council’s workforce development director. “This program will fill a critical need for NWA employers and is just another example of how NWA is a special place to live, work, play and learn.”

Learn more about JBU’s cybersecurity program on the university’s website.