HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICIAL                                                                                                               

CULLOWHEE – Daniel Ostergaard, executive director of the U.S. Homeland Security Advisory Council, will discuss the role that Western Carolina University should play in homeland security issues for Western North Carolina when he visits campus Monday, Dec. 5.

Ostergaard's public presentation will begin at noon in the Fine and Performing Arts Center. He will be visiting the campus at the behest of Western's recently formed Homeland Security Advisory Committee. Following the public presentation, he will tour the campus and meet with the committee to address questions, concerns and ideas.

“Our intention is to get people in state and federal government who are familiar with homeland security and show them our capabilities, concerns and weaknesses in this area, as well as query them for suggestions,” said Jeff Zelenka of Western's Institute for the Economy and the Future, which is sponsoring the meeting.

Ostergaard's visit will mark the second meeting of the university's Homeland Security Advisory Committee, designed to help define the university's role in homeland security.

“Homeland security is such a broad and pervasive subject, with the potential to impact our students and our region on so many levels and in so many ways, the university felt it was important to proactively study our responsibilities and opportunities in this area,” said Zelenka.

At the Dec. 5 conference and over the next several months, the committee will explore pressing issues of homeland security such as how university facilities could be used to accommodate displaced victims of a natural disaster or how to evacuate students, faculty and staff in the event of a terrorist attack. The committee also will look at how the university's curriculum could help incorporate emerging homeland security issues into a variety of professions and industries.

“Homeland security impacts almost every discipline and profession and we need to prepare our students to deal with that in their respective fields,” said Western Chancellor John W. Bardo. “Whether it is teaching our nursing students the latest techniques in how to treat victims of biological, nuclear or chemical attack or teaching our information technology students how to create secure networks, we want our students to come out ready and able to perform in an environment that must take into account homeland security.”

In addition to addressing homeland security needs, the committee also will explore the business opportunities that exist for the university, its students and the region in regards to homeland security.

“Homeland security-related industries and services are projected to grow from a $40 billion-a-year business to a $180 billion-a-year business over the next 10 years,” said Paul Evans, executive director of the Institute for the Economy and the Future. “The average security professional now makes more than $70,000 a year. We would be crazy not to explore how our region and our students could tap into such bourgeoning segment of the economy.”

Despite that potential, very few universities in the country are actively exploring their role in homeland security, Evans said. With the creation of its Homeland Security Advisory Committee, Western hopes to join Texas A&M, the University of Maryland , the University of Minnesota and the University of Southern California as the only recognized university-based homeland security centers of excellence in the country, he said.

For more information about Ostergaard's presentation at Western or the university's Homeland Security Advisory Committee, contact Jeff Zelenka at (828) 227-3723.

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Last modified: Wednesday, November 23, 2005
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