Erik Fretheim is the new director of the Computer and Information Systems Security (CISS) Program, which was established as a joint academic program between Western Washington University and Whatcom Community College, with the goal of students earning bachelor’s degrees that prepare them for the rapidly growing field of cybersecurity.
“The CISS program was established to seize the opportunity to leverage the work already done at Whatcom Community College and to provide an expedient and efficient way to help meet the massive and urgent need for graduates with specialist expertise in cybersecurity,” said David Bover, Western professor of Computer Science.
Students complete the first two years of the program at Whatcom Community College (WCC), earning an associate’s degree in Applied Science – transfer degree in Cybersecurity. The final two years of the program at WWU enable them to complete the requirements for the bachelor’s degree in Computer and Information Systems Security (CISS) in a total of four years.
“This partnership exemplifies the collaborative work between WWU and WCC. Working together, our institutions are creating a pipeline of highly qualified students to enter the workforce and protect our cyber systems and infrastructure. Students, businesses, and our community benefit by this collaborative program,” said Curt Freed, WCC’s vice president for instruction.
With an appropriation from the Washington State Legislature, the program has been expanded to also accept students from Peninsula College and Olympic College, with instruction to be provided at the Olympic College/WWU facility at Poulsbo.
Fretheim, who started at Western in September, will oversee the on-going development of the CISS program at both the Bellingham and Poulsbo campuses.
“Western, as a result of its ties to the outstanding cybersecurity programs at Whatcom Community College and other area colleges, is in a unique position to become a leader in education and in the broader community as a multi-disciplinary center for cybersecurity and privacy by working closely with local industries and organizations to ensure their needs are addressed,” Fretheim said.
Fretheim has master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology. He also has an MBA in International Business from Long Island University and a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering from the U.S. Military Academy.
He was previously the executive director and professor at the Technology Institute at City University in Seattle. In that position he created and revised undergraduate and graduate degrees in Information Security, Computer Science, Information Systems and Information Technology, as well as maintaining industry and academic relationships.
Previous experience includes as a Lt. Colonel, Signal Corps, in the U.S. Army; as an independent consultant in technology and cyber security; as vice president of Peek Engineering; chief technology officer at I5 Digital, and chief information officer at Grange Insurance Group.