MU digital forensic program is first school to be accredited - Business, Government Legal News from throughout WV

MU digital forensic program is first school in nation to gain accreditation

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Photo courtesy of Marshall University.  U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin positions a cell phone in a radio frequency isolation box in preparation for cell phone examination at Marshall University Forensic Science Center’s Digital Forensics Investigative Unit. Photo courtesy of Marshall University. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin positions a cell phone in a radio frequency isolation box in preparation for cell phone examination at Marshall University Forensic Science Center’s Digital Forensics Investigative Unit.
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By JAMES E. CASTO

For The State Journal

HUNTINGTON — Marshall University has become the first school in the nation to receive accreditation for its digital forensic program.

The university announced its accreditation by the Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission during an April 2 news conference attended by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., who said the key role Marshall is playing in attacking cyber crooks and terrorists "speaks well for the entire state of West Virginia."

Dr. Terry Fenger, director of the Forensic Science Center at Marshall, said the center not only trains graduate students in forensic science but also trains law enforcement professionals and assists police departments in West Virginia and across the nation.

Fenger said the new accreditation should not only help attract additional graduate students to the Marshall program but also help the school in its quest for grant money to help expand the program.

The Marshall program, he said, is now poised to be a national model for other schools.

The accreditation was slow in coming, Fenger said, because the field is so new that the Accreditation Commission had difficulty drawing up the standards to apply to programs such as Marshall's.

In a letter read at the news conference, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., challenged Marshall and local economic development officials to use the accreditation as a marketing tool to lure new companies to the Tri-State Area .

"While we have this distinction, let's market the heck out of it," Rahall wrote, "not only to promising undergraduates everywhere, but to companies which use the expertise our master's program produces. … Certainly, I stand ready to assist in any way possible." 

Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp termed the accreditation announcement a "milestone day" for the university and described the MU Forensic Science Center as "an incredible place with incredible people."

The Marshall Forensic Science Center is located in the city's South Side in a building at the north end of a site that once was home to the university's Fairfield Stadium. The center offers a multi-faceted program that includes forensic science education, training for forensic science professionals and advanced scientific analysis.

Cybercrime investigations are conducted at the center by the West Virginia State Police Digital Forensic Unit, which works closely with the center's staff and students. Cases handled by the unit include child exploitation, homicides, prescription fraud and illegal drug operations.

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