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New Dean Brings New “Art”

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The University at Albany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security, and Cybersecurity will welcome its new dean on July 1.
Robert Griffin, who has spent 25 years working in local and federal government management, seeks to expand experiential learning as he joins the UAlbany community this summer.
In terms of experiential learning, students can practice using data analytics as a tool in emergency management operations. On using data analytics, Griffin said, “There is a science to this, but there’s also an art.”
That art involves the instinct that experienced emergency managers have. To instill good judgment like this in students and give them practice in emergency management, Griffin plans to build on the traditional teaching of data analytics by bringing in more opportunities for experiential learning.
Moving with the future of emergency management, he hopes to bring in industry for students to gain experience in putting to use many technological developments. The appointed dean also plans on bringing in traditional first responders like police officers and firefighters to the college.
Industry also involves the advancement of technology, such as sensors, which can be anything from drones to devices embedded in the street to collect information locally. After sensors collect the information, subsystems carry information, which can then be analyzed and visualized.
The whole aspect of industry helps operationalize data, or put data analytics to use. This is important because it makes emergency operations run more smoothly, according to Griffin.
Currently, experiential learning in CEHC includes a research seminar, internship, capstone project, and 100 hours of non-credit training.
Griffin plans to further prepare his future students through applied learning with a focus on improving the safety and security of communities. While emergency and security issues may rise to the international level, “Every disaster, every emergency, starts as a local problem,” he said.
The growth of emergency management is not only in the local, state, and federal levels, but also in the private sector leading to an endless amount of career choices for CEHC students who choose to pursue a career in the field.
For example, analysts are involved in big events such as NFL games, according to Griffin.
In addition to Griffin’s upcoming arrival, CEHC is undergoing other changes as well. In November 2016, Mohawk Valley Community College signed an articulation agreement with UAlbany that allows MVCC students to transfer into the CEHC program.
In a similar fashion as this agreement, Griffin envisions UAlbany as a “hub” where many different universities and disciplines can come together. Collaboration will help expand the network of faculty and research, which Griffin believes will give students a competitive advantage in the growing area of security.
“We’re stronger when we’re working cooperatively with folks,” he said.
Griffin has previously taught state and local governance classes at Georgetown University and looks to teach at UAlbany in addition to his role as dean. Teaching is important to him because he wants to build a college that is “student-centric.” His goal is to fill in the gaps in the curriculum and teaching positions.
Although he is unsure of which particular classes he may teach, Griffin’s interests range from classic emergency management to federalism to the development of homeland security. Other areas of Griffin’s interest are international components of secure communities such as Smart Cities—places where technology and design provide high quality of jobs and life based on workable energy and healthy living conditions.
As CEHC is the first program of its kind, Griffin said, “There’s opportunity for us to do something in Albany that hasn’t been done.”
The appointed dean believes that CEHC can become an “international leader” in pioneering new ways to think of emergency management.


Elise Coombs, a Syracuse native, is the editor-in-chief of the Albany Student Press. She is the co-Vice President of the UAlbany Mock Trial team, a member of Presidential Honors Society, and a peer mentor for the pre-law section of Writing and Critical Inquiry. After her time at UAlbany, she plans to go to law school and become a First Amendment lawyer.

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