System administrators are the glue holding together business operations, ensuring smooth-running IT infrastructures. The role requires in-demand career skills that range from server and client configuration and maintenance to access controls, network services and application resource requirements. SysAdmins may even work with more user-facing products, like directory and name services, network addressing, database services, web and desktop applications, and email. They’re often the company “tech expert” – sometimes at several organizations simultaneously.
System administrator certifications help IT professionals navigate their career paths, expand their knowledge and demonstrate their expertise to managers and employers. SysAdmin certs may even help you secure managerial and executive level jobs and higher pay.
If you’re a SysAdmin specializing in database services, consider exploring the best database certifications for database administrators and developers.
After examining various credentials, we developed this list of our five favorite system administrator certifications for 2023. These certifications are geared toward various experience levels, product interests and skill sets. They can foster your development within system administration, encourage you to explore new areas of expertise, and help you set and achieve career goals.
Many businesses operate within Microsoft ecosystems, making Microsoft certifications extremely valuable and sought after. However, Microsoft has overhauled its certification processes in exact years, replacing broad certificates like Microsoft Certified Solutions Expert with a wider variety of role-based certification options divided into the following roles:
Certifications come in beginner, intermediate, and expert levels, based on applicants’ experience.
Various system administrators may find some Microsoft certifications more advantageous than others. However, the Azure Solutions Architect Expert is the most in-demand certification for a SysAdmin with IT operation experience.
The Azure Solutions Architect Expert certification is ideal for someone with extensive experience using Azure to solve problems and make decisions for a business’s tech needs. Candidates must have experience with every level of IT operations as well as DevOps. Candidates will be tested on their knowledge and ability to design solutions for data storage, identity, infrastructure and more using Azure.
This certification combines elements of system administration, Azure implementation and solutions architect experience. Candidates should have one prerequisite qualification: the Azure Administrator Associate certification.
If you have solutions architect experience, check out our list of the best enterprise architect certifications. Credentials at the architect level can lead to some of the highest-paid tech industry positions.
Although Oracle is known for its database products and solutions, it also distributes Linux products geared for the enterprise and designed to support cloud environments. Oracle Linux is optimized for various Oracle products and platforms, such as:
To support Oracle Linux, the company offers several Oracle Linux System Administrator learning paths. It also provides several standalone Linux administration courses. Oracle’s Linux certifications are considered among the best Linux certifications to earn. We’ll highlight the Professional Oracle Linux 8 System Administrator certification below.
The OCP Oracle Linux System Administrator certification, currently at version 8, covers many tools and processes. Candidates must be well-versed in:
The certification also tests for knowledge of network bonding, task automation, security configuration and more.
SysAdmins who support Oracle Solaris might also be interested in the Oracle Solaris System Administrator certification, which Oracle offers at the Associate and Professional levels. Oracle also offers a Cloud Database Migration and Integration Professional certificate.
Oracle certifications are vendor-specific certifications to advance your networking career and are frequently sought after by SysAdmins.
In the realm of Linux system administrator certifications, Red Hat certifications stand out. Red Hat’s more senior-level certifications are especially popular among IT professionals and the firms that hire them. Those holding the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) credential qualify for highly competitive job roles, including the following:
The RHCE is considered a high-level credential that’s not easy to obtain. Candidates must first obtain the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) credential. The RHCE credential expands the RHCSA’s understanding of automation in multisystem environments. Candidates must then pass an intense, demanding, four-hour, hands-on, performance-based exam. Those who earn the RHCE can go on to earn the Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA) in Infrastructure credential.
Candidates can choose a path based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 or Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8. RHCE certification is valid for three years from the date the certification was achieved. To maintain the certification, a credential holder must pass any RHCA exam or pass the RHCE certification exam again before the end of the three years.
See our Red Hat certification guide for additional Red Hat professional certifications based on software products, virtualization, storage and cloud-based solutions.
|Certification name||Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)|
|Prerequisites and required courses||
Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) certification via one exam: EX200 Red Hat Certified System Administrator
Note: Courses are not required, but Red Hat requests that candidates who opt out of the courses demonstrate equivalent experience.
|Number of exams||One exam: EX294 Red Hat Certified Engineer exam|
|Cost per exam||$400 (RHCE exam fee only)|
|Self-study materials||Several online education resources, including Udemy.com, offer courses to help you prepare for the RHCE exam. In addition, some books are available with resources to help you study for the test.|
CompTIA certifications, such as the A+ for hardware technicians, Network+ for network admins and Security+ for security specialists, are highly regarded in the computing industry. The CompTIA Server+ certification is no exception.
Companies such as Intel, HP, Dell, Lenovo, Xerox and Microsoft recommend or require their server technicians to earn CompTIA Server+ credentials.
The Server+ certification exam focuses on fundamental, vendor-neutral server-related topics, including:
Individuals seeking positions across the system administration world, including data technician, network administrator, IT technician and data center engineer, can benefit from CompTIA Server+ certification. This certification also provides new IT professionals with an excellent foundation for more specialized certifications.
Candidates for the Server+ certification take one exam: SK0-005. CompTIA recommends that candidates have at least two years of practical experience working with servers and either CompTIA A+ certification or comparable knowledge. This certification also stands out because it does not expire – certification is good for life.
|Certification name||CompTIA Server+|
|Prerequisites and required courses||Required: None Recommended: CompTIA A+ certification plus 18 to 24 months of IT experience|
|Number of exams||One exam: SK0-005 (90 minutes, 90 multiple-choice and performance-based questions; 750 on a scale of 100 to 900 required to pass)|
|Cost per exam||$358; purchase vouchers through CompTIA Marketplace; exam administered by Pearson VUE|
|Self-study materials||Links to practice questions, exam objectives, e-books and other training resources are available on the certification page. exam study bundles, including e-books and CertMaster practice, are available from the CompTIA Marketplace.|
VMware certifications are must-have credentials for IT professionals interested in virtualization. With a comprehensive certification program encompassing all skill levels, VMware credentials are recognized globally as the best in their class of professional certifications.
The latest incarnation of the VMware vSphere product is Version 8. VMware offers five credentials related to the vSphere product:
VMware also offers a wide range of badges for specific product applications. We’re highlighting the intermediate certification: Certified Advanced Professional – Data Center Virtualization Design.
Training is required for non-credential holders seeking to obtain the VCAP-DCV credential. VMware offers various training options to meet the training prerequisite: self-paced (on demand), live online and live classroom – some of which include virtual labs. Those possessing a valid VCAP-DCV Design certificate must attend a training course or pass the VCAP-DCV Design exam.
|Certification name||VMware Certified Advanced Professional – Data Center Virtualization 2022 (VCAP-DCV)|
|Prerequisites and required courses||Path 1 (non-VCP credential holders): Earn the VCP-DCV 2022 and pass the VCAP-DCV Design exam. Additional training courses are recommended but not required.
Path 2 (active VCAP-DCV Design or Deploy 2019 or newer credential holders): Pass the VCAP-DCV Design exam. Training is recommended but not required.
Path 3 (VCAP-CMA Design or Deploy 2019 or newer, VCAP-DTM Design or Deploy 2019 or newer, VCAP-NV Design or Deploy 2019 or newer holders): Earn the VCP-DCV 2022 and pass the VCAP-DCV Design exam. Training is recommended but not required.
Path 4 (VCAP-DCV Design 2021 holder): Either attend the training course in 2022 or pass the VCAP-DCV Design exam. Path 5 (VCAP6.5-DCV Design or Deploy or older): Earn the VCP-DCV 2022 and pass the VCAP-DCV Design exam. Training is recommended but not required.
|Number of exams||Professional DCV exam (130 minutes, 70 single and multiple-choice questions; must score 300 out of 500 to pass)
Exam for certification: VCAP-DCV Design Exam (150 minutes, 60 single and multiple-choice questions; must score 300 out of 500 to pass)
|Cost per exam||Professional DCV exam: $250 VCAP-DCV Design exam: $450|
|Self-study materials||VMware offers a downloadable exam guide for each exam. VMware Customer Connect Learning offers exam prep subscriptions.|
Earning the best IT certifications, including system admin certs, is an excellent career advancement tool for amassing and validating your skills and knowledge.
In addition to the five system administrator certifications we highlighted above, many other certification programs can help further the careers and professional development of IT professionals in system administration.
It makes sense to investigate the plethora of vendor-specific programs available for those who work with systems from companies like Brocade, Dell EMC, HPE, IBM, NetApp and Symantec. Many play into critical system specialty areas, such as storage, security and virtualization, while others offer a broad range of platforms for these and other technology areas.
Here are some examples:
Vendor-neutral certification programs also offer a variety of interesting and potentially valuable credentials. For example, Linux Professional Institute certifications are well known and widely recognized in IT shops and operations that depend on Linux servers to handle their workloads.
The following chart shows the results of an informal job search we conducted to give you an idea of the relative frequency with which our top five certifications appear in genuine job postings. While all the certifications are popular, the CompTIA Server+ stands out as the clear favorite.
|Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect Expert (Microsoft)||1,722||4,281||554||2,711||9,268|
|Oracle Linux 8 System Administrator (Oracle)||1,831||2,232||166||765||4,994|
|RHCE (Red Hat)||417||527||1,015||1,972||3,931|
|VCAP-DCV Design 2022 (VMware)*||2,884||2,885||220||4,932||10,921|
* When searching for VCP – Data Center credentials, we found most job descriptions didn’t indicate a specific version.
Although employers tend to pay SysAdmins less than some of their IT peers, such as network engineers and enterprise IT architects, a career in system administration is still worth pursuing. SimplyHired reports $79,283 as the national average salary for system administrators, with a range of $49,718 to $136,224. Indeed.com similarly reports that $76,942 is the average base salary for system administrators, while senior system administrators can expect an average salary of around $92,803.
IT systems are dynamic. They grow with companies and change with evolving technology. Therefore, it’s important for system administrators to nourish their skills. Certifications and training show you’re qualified to handle the responsibilities of your desired position while demonstrating your willingness to learn and grow.
As you move through your career in system administration, you may want to branch into new specialties or software. Fortunately, in addition to receiving certifications, you can access many excellent courses and educational resources to help you continue to grow in your field.
Ed Tittel and Kim Lindros contributed to the reporting and writing in this article.
The Biden administration’s cornerstone artificial intelligence policy documents, released in the past year, are inherently contradictory and provide confusing guidance for tech companies working to develop innovative products and the necessary safeguards around them, leading AI experts have warned.
Speaking with FedScoop, five AI policy experts said adhering to both the White House’s Blueprint for an AI ‘Bill of Rights’ and the AI Risk Management Framework (RMF), published by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, presents an obstacle for companies working to develop responsible AI products.
However, the White House and civil rights groups have pushed back on claims that the two voluntary AI safety frameworks send conflicting messages and have highlighted that they are a productive “starting point” in the absence of congressional action on AI.
The two policy documents form the foundation of the Biden administration’s approach to regulating artificial intelligence. But for many months, there has been an active debate among AI experts regarding how helpful — or in some cases hindering — the Biden administration’s dual approach to AI policymaking has been.
The White House’s Blueprint for an AI ‘Bill of Rights’ was published last October. It takes a rights-based approach to AI, focusing on broad fundamental human rights as a starting point for the regulation of the technology. That was followed by the risk-based AI RMF in January, which set out to determine the scale and scope of risks related to concrete use cases and recognized threats to instill trustworthiness into the technology.
Speaking with FedScoop, Daniel Castro, a technology policy scholar and vice president at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), noted that there are “big, major philosophical differences in the approach taken by the two Biden AI policy documents,” which are creating “different [and] at times adverse” outcomes for the industry.
“A lot of companies that want to move forward with AI guidelines and frameworks want to be doing the right thing but they really need more clarity. They will not invest in AI safety if it’s confusing or going to be a wasted effort or if instead of the NIST AI framework they’re pushed towards the AI blueprint,” Castro said.
Castro’s thoughts were echoed by Adam Thierer of the libertarian nonprofit R Street Institute who said that despite a sincere attempt to emphasize democratic values within AI tools, there are “serious issues” with the Biden administration’s handling of AI policy driven by tensions between the two key AI frameworks.
“The Biden administration is trying to see how far it can get away with using their bully pulpit and jawboning tactics to get companies and agencies to follow their AI policies, particularly with the blueprint,” Thierer, senior fellow on the Technology and Innovation team at R Street, told FedScoop.
Two industry sources who spoke with FedScoop but wished to remain anonymous said they felt pushed toward the White House’s AI blueprint over the NIST AI framework in certain instances during meetings regarding AI policymaking with the White House’s Office of Science and Technology (OSTP).
Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., chair of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, and House Oversight Chairman Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., have been highly critical of the White House blueprint as it compares to the NIST AI Risk Management Framework, expressing concern earlier this year that the blueprint sends “conflicting messages about U.S. federal AI policy.”
In a letter obtained exclusively by FedScoop, Arati Prabhakar responded to those concerns, arguing that “these documents are not contradictory” and highlighting how closely the White House and NIST are working together on future regulation of the technology.
At the same time, some industry AI experts say the way in which the two documents define AI clash with one another.
Nicole Foster, who leads global AI and machine learning policy at Amazon Web Services, said chief among the concerns with the documents are diverging definitions of the technology itself. She told FedScoop earlier this year that “there are some inconsistencies between the two documents for sure. I think just at a basic level they don’t even define things like AI in the same way.”
Foster’s thoughts were echoed by Raj Iyer, global head of public sector at cloud software provider ServiceNow and former CIO of the U.S. Army, who believes the two frameworks are a good starting point to get industry engaged in AI policymaking but that they lack clarity.
“I feel like the two frameworks are complementary. But there’s clearly some ambiguity and vagueness in terms of definition,” said Iyer.
“So what does the White House mean by automated systems? Is it autonomous systems? Is it automated decision-making? What is it? I think it’s very clear that they did that to kind of steer away from wanting to have a direct conversation on AI,” Iyer added.
Hodan Omaar, an AI and quantum research scholar working with Castro at ITIF, said the two documents appear to members of the tech industry as if they are on different tracks. According to Omaar, the divergence creates a risk that organizations will simply defer to either the “Bill of Rights” or the NIST RMF and ignore the other.
“There are two things the White House should be doing. First, it should better elucidate the ways the Blueprint should be used in conjunction with the RMF. And second, it should better engage with stakeholders to gather input on how the Blueprint can be improved and better implemented by organizations,” Omaar told FedScoop.
In addition to compatibility concerns about the two documents, experts have also raised concerns about the process followed by the White House to take industry feedback in creating the documents.
Speaking with FedScoop anonymously in order to speak freely, one industry association AI official said that listening sessions held by the Office of Science and Technology Policy were not productive.
“The Bill of Rights and the development of that, we have quite a bit of concern because businesses were not properly consulted throughout that process,” the association official said.
The official added: “OSTP’s listening sessions were just not productive or helpful. We tried to actually provide input in ways in which businesses could help them through this process. Sadly, that’s just not what they wanted.”
The AI experts’ comments come as the Biden administration works to establish a regulatory framework that mitigates potential threats posed by the technology while supporting American AI innovation. Last month, the White House secured voluntary commitments from seven leading AI companies about how AI is used, and it is expected to issue a new executive order on AI safety in the coming weeks.
One of the contributors to the White House’s AI Blueprint sympathizes with concerns from industry leaders and AI experts regarding the confusion and complexity of the administration’s approach to AI policymaking. But it’s also an opportunity for companies seeking voluntary AI policymaking guidance to put more effort into asking themselves hard questions, he said.
“So I understand the concerns very much. And I feel the frustration. And I understand people just want clarity. But clarity will only come once you understand the implications, the broader values, discussion and the issues in the context of your own AI creations,” said Suresh Venkatasubramanian, a Brown University professor and former top official within the White House’s OSTP, where he helped co-author its Blueprint for an ‘AI Bill of Rights.’
“The goal is not to say: Do every single thing in these frameworks. It’s like, understand the issues, understand the values at play here. Understand the questions you need to be asking from the RMF and the Blueprint, and then make your own decisions,” said Venkatasubramanian.
On top of that, the White House Blueprint co-author wants those who criticize the documents’ perceived contradictions to be more specific in their complaints.
“Tell me a question in the NIST RMF that contradicts a broader goal in the White House blueprint — find one for me, or two or three. I’m not saying this because I think they don’t exist. I’m saying this because if you could come up with these examples, then we could think through what can we do about it?” he said.
Venkatasubramanian added that he feels the White House AI blueprint in particular has faced resistance from industry because “for the first time someone in a position of power came out and said: What about the people?” when it comes to tech innovation and regulations.
Civil rights groups like the Electronic Privacy Information Center have also joined the greater discussion about AI regulations, pushing back on the notion that industry groups should play any significant role in the policymaking of a rights-based document created by the White House.
“I’m sorry that industry is upset that a policy document is not reflective of their incentives, which is just to make money and take people’s data and make whatever decisions they want to make more contracts. It’s a policy document, they don’t get to write it,” said Ben Winters, the senior counsel at EPIC, where he leads their work on AI and human rights.
Groups like EPIC and a number of others have called upon the Biden administration to take more aggressive steps to protect the public from the potential harms of AI.
“I actually don’t think that the Biden administration has taken a super aggressive role when trying to implement these two frameworks and policies that the administration has set forth. When it comes to using the frameworks for any use of AI within the government or federal contractors or recipients of federal funds, they’re not doing enough in terms of using their bully pulpit and applying pressure. I really don’t think they’re doing too much yet,” said Winters.
Meanwhile, the White House has maintained that the two AI documents were created for different purposes but designed to be used side-by-side as initial voluntary guidance, noting that both OSTP and NIST were involved in the creation of both frameworks.
OSTP spokesperson Subhan Cheema said: “President Biden has been clear that companies have a fundamental responsibility to ensure their products are safe before they are released to the public, and that innovation must not come at the expense of people’s rights and safety. That’s why the administration has moved with urgency to advance responsible innovation that manage the risks posed by AI and seize its promise — including by securing voluntary commitments from seven leading AI companies that will help move us toward AI development that is more safe, secure, and trustworthy.”
“These commitments are a critical step forward and build on the administration’s Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights and AI Risk Management Framework. The administration is also currently developing an executive order that will ensure the federal government is doing everything in its power to support responsible innovation and protect people’s rights and safety, and will also pursue bipartisan legislation to help America lead the way in responsible innovation,” Cheema added.
NIST did not respond to requests for comment.
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Industrial policy is all the rage. The Biden administration is infatuated with tax breaks, subsidies, and mandates meant to encourage—or coerce—firms to locate or expand operations in America. Biden’s team is primarily selling these actions as a way to strengthen national security, particularly in relation to China. But they are also telling folks that their policies will boost U.S. manufacturing and revitalize local economies across the country. State officials have been making similar claims about their industrial policies for years, and like them, Biden’s big plans will fail.
The CHIPS HIPS and Science Act calls for $280 billion in various subsidies, tax credits, and loan programs to stimulate semiconductor research, development, and manufacturing on U.S. soil. Similarly, the poorly named Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) provides at least $400 billion in government subsidies for non-carbon-based energy such as wind and solar, as well as subsidies for electric vehicles and related infrastructure e.g., charging stations.
Government officials and lawmakers from both major parties are praising the CHIPS Act. To commemorate the one-year anniversary of it becoming law, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican, said he’s “…proud to be an early supporter of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022.” Meanwhile, shortly after the CHIPS Act became law, Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA), a Democrat, said “I am delighted about $52 billion that is going into chips, that is going into domestic manufacturing, that is going into strengthening our supply chains.”
There is less support for the IRA among Republicans, but even GOP lawmakers appreciate the investments in their districts that the IRA is subsidizing.
The CHIPS Act and the IRA thrust national industrial policy into the spotlight. While the federal government has doled out subsidies (farm subsidies, banks, Solyndra) and levied mandates (Davis-Bacon Act, Buy American Act) on companies for decades, the most exact laws appear to be ushering in a new age of interventionist economic policy. Unlike China or Russia, the U.S. has largely avoided national industrial planning. Economic development incentives are typically viewed as something government officials do to help companies in their districts or important industries in their states. It is cronyism for sure, but no one thinks the government is trying to control the economy or even an industry. Now, that is less clear.
Supporters of the CHIPS Act say it is needed to limit China’s ability to access the latest microchip technology as part of a bigger effort to slow China’s growing influence in the world. The Biden administration is actively working with Japan, The Netherlands, and other countries to shape the microchip industry—where inputs come from, where the final products are made, and who can buy them.
Similarly, the stricter buy American mandates in the IRA are trying to shape supply chains and manufacturing processes for electric vehicles, batteries, solar panels, and wind turbines. To be eligible for the IRA’s subsidies, electric vehicles and their components need to be built in North America. America’s large fiscal capacity—we have the largest economy in the world—means we can generally out-subsidize any other country if that is our goal. Other countries are unlikely to go down without a fight though, as demonstrated by Europe’s response—its own $270 billon green subsidy program.
Watching countries compete in a subsidy arms race reminds me of the subsidy battles among U.S. states. Bloated state budgets stuffed with federal pandemic aid caused states to go on a spending spree in 2022. Ohio gave chipmaker Intel INTC hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies and tax credits to open a new manufacturing campus. Michigan’s state Economic Development authority gave $600 million in grants and $1.1 billion in tax breaks and lower utility rates to General Motors GM to convince it to build a new truck and battery factory in the state. North Carolina gave $121 million to Boom Supersonic, an aviation company with plans to build hypersonic passenger planes. There are hundreds of other examples.
Biden and his administration can learn something from states’ experiences with subsidies—they do not boost economic growth. Research shows that economic development incentives are rarely sent to places with the worst economies, despite repeated claims that they can revitalize downtrodden towns or cities. But even if the money did flow to the places in the worst shape, it would not do much: Research finds that while subsidies typically increase employment in the targeted industry, they do not increase total employment or per capita incomes.
Despite the evidence that subsidies are generally economic losers, some folks, including some economists, suggest we rethink them rather than scrap them. In a new NBER paper, economists Dani Rodrik, Nathan Lane, and Réka Juhász (RLJ) argue that industrial policy, of which subsidies are a key part, should be evaluated on narrower goals, such as whether it reallocates resources toward the targeted industry rather than whether it promotes broader economic growth.
But merely boosting an industry is not what politicians promise from more active industrial policy. They claim that economic growth will be widespread. In recent remarks about the IRA, Biden said “I wish I hadn’t called it that, because it has less to do with reducing inflation than it does to do with dealing with providing for alternatives that generate economic growth”.
If industrial policy only helps the targeted industry, any moral justification for it withers. Taking money from one group of taxpayers and giving it to another could be defended (though not by me) if the entire economy benefited. But if firms in the targeted industry are the only ones that benefit, or even worse, only certain firms get the spoils, most taxpayers have nothing to gain from letting politicians and bureaucrats play venture capitalist with their tax dollars.
RLJ also claim that for industrial policy to work, governments do not need to consistently pick winners, but rather pick enough winners to offset the losers. This is like a stock portfolio, where a couple of big winners can offset dozens of smaller losers. A safer alternative to picking individual stocks, however, is investing in the market via an index fund. This is the prudent choice for most investors and the more remunerative strategy on average, since actively managed funds generally do worse than passive index funds.
There is an index fund strategy for industrial policy: promoting competition and innovation through low taxes, modest regulation, and simple laws that apply to all firms. Instead of trying to pick winners, policymakers should focus on setting up an economic environment that allows for experimentation and incentivizes success. At the state level, Florida, South Dakota, and New Hampshire provide good models.
It is hard for policymakers to stick to this basic strategy since it does not provide many ribbon-cutting ceremonies or photo opportunities, but in the long run local economies and the national economy will benefit. Free markets are a tried-and-true mechanism for promoting prosperity and America has leveraged the power of free markets to become the largest economy in the world. Now is not the time to abandon what works.
Whether you work at a college, university, adult education center or serve in military or corporate training settings, UW’s online Ed.D. program will give you a strong background in the functional areas of higher education, preparing you for senior administrative positions as well as teaching in a higher education setting.
While the Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration stresses theoretical study and research, the Ed.D. emphasizes applied theory and research with the goal of providing a stronger foundation for enhancing your professional practice and leadership skills, making it possible for you to effect visionary changes in your organization.
Contact our program coordinator!
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Below is a sampling of Higher Education Administration Ed.D. classes you might take as a student at the University of Wyoming:
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The UW Ed.D. in Higher Education Administration prepares you for upper level administrative positions at colleges and university and other post-secondary environments.
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UW higher education administration Ed.D. alumni can work in the following positions:
The Quinault Indian Nation, located about 150 miles west of Seattle, has experienced severe flooding because of sea-level rise over the past few years. And it's only going to get worse, as the sea level along the Washington coast is likely to rise between 2 feet and 3 feet by the end of the century, according to the Washington Costal Resilience Project, funded primarily by a grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA.
"I've never seen this type of flooding in my lifetime," said Lia Frenchman, whose street has flooded twice in the past few years. "So when it does flood, unfortunately, my end of the street has a large dip in the road and the water will stay for up to a week at a time. And so I'm basically either trapped or not able to come home."
Now the Quinault Nation has a plan to relocate the entire town of Taholah, where Frenchman lives, to an area a mile uphill on tribal land. A smaller town north of Taholah, called Queets, is planning to relocate as well.
Quinault is one of three Native American communities to receive a $25 million grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior for climate-related relocation efforts.
"We haven't really ever done this before as a country, relocating entire communities in response to climate change. And so we've got a lot to learn ourselves about how to coordinate this work across a number of federal agencies," said Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland at the Department of the Interior.
But that $25 million is just the tip of the iceberg. Ryan Hendricks, who is overseeing the construction of Quinault's upper village, estimates that it will cost about $450 million to build out all the necessary infrastructure in the new town, where he hopes all community members will eventually live. But he can't force folks to relocate, and many questions remain about how tribal members are going to afford new homes.
"If I want to move, I'm assuming that I'm going to be responsible for a whole new house payment and a whole new home," Frenchman said. "And I don't really know how I'm supposed to do that."
Communities throughout the U.S. face myriad climate-related dangers, from increased extreme weather events to sea-level rise. One study found that by 2050 nearly 650,000 parcels of land will fall below the tide line, evaporating over $108 billion from the U.S. property market.
Marginalized communities such as Native American tribes are often hit particularly hard, though, as climate change threatens lands that are key to tribal identity and livelihood. Such is the case with the Quinault, whose culture revolves around their proximity to the Quinault River and the Pacific Ocean.
"The need across Indian country is measured in the billions because we see a lot of tribal communities really facing challenges from flooding, coastal erosion, wildfire, drought," Newland said. So far, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act have earmarked over $460 million in funding to help tribes respond to the threat of climate change.
The Quinault Nation has discussed the possibility of relocation for nearly a decade, since the ocean first breached the community's seawall in 2014, causing extensive water damage. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers helped repair and reinforce the seawall, but massive flooding inundated the village again at the beginning of 2021 and 2022.
Waves caused by exceptionally high tides crash near homes on First Avenue in Taholah, Washington, in January 2022, leading to severe flooding.
Frenchman lives on First Avenue, the street closest to the ocean. "When those floods started happening every year, it was kind of like, okay, this street really is done. First Avenue is literally in the ocean at this point."
Kaylah Mail lives right next to the river, in the same house where her grandparents once lived. "I feel like the river gets higher than it used to, like it comes up straight to the bank and it's kind of eroding the bank alongside here."
In 2017, Quinault adopted its master plan for relocation. This involves moving just a mile away, up an adjacent hill that sits 120 feet above sea level, well outside the tsunami and flood hazard zone, but still close enough to the river that fishing and canoeing can continue to play an integral role in tribal life.
Now, the first phase of construction in the upper village is nearly complete. The land where the new homes will be built has been cleared, and construction crews were busy when we visited in June.
"Right now, we see them installing the last of the sewer line and the water line. The majority of our phase three power has all been installed. All of our fiber optics have all been installed," said Hendricks. He hopes that within a decade about 75% of the new homes will be built and that all government services will be relocated.
The current construction work was paid for with the Quinault Nation's existing funds — including $8 million from the 2021 Covid stimulus package and $500,000 from the Indian Health Service. Now, the tribe is looking into how best to allocate the $25 million grant from the Department of the Interior as well as approximately $5 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA.
The Quinault Nation also recently qualified for an additional $50 million state-provided seismic safety grant that will help them rebuild their K-12 school in the upper village.
"The only thing that I'm going to miss is the view of the river," said Mail. "But other than that, you know, I'm up the hill for work, and pretty soon the school is going to be up there. So hopefully my youngest kid will probably be able to go to the new school whenever that's built."
Even if construction in the upper village continues apace, there's still the open question of how Quinault community members will pay for the move.
"I have a good job. But I don't know that I have a good enough job that I could afford, you know, a brand new home like that," said Frenchman. "But at the same time, my job as a parent is to make sure that my kids are in the safest place as possible. And I think it's just very apparent and very obvious that our street is no longer that safe."
Lia Frenchman lives on First Avenue, the street closest to the ocean, which has seen severe flooding in exact years. Frenchman is hoping to relocate to the upper village, but doesn't know how she'll be able to afford a new home.
The homeownership model in Taholah is different than in most of the U.S., in that folks like Lia and Kaylah own their physical home, but not the land that it sits on, which they lease from Quinault's government. This unusual situation influences what types of buyouts and relocation funding homeowners might be eligible for.
"I do still have the option of the home loan myself, but it still is pretty scary when I think about it," Frenchman said. "I just don't know if I want to take on that big of an expenditure when my home is already paid for."
"And we know we ain't going to hand people houses for free," said Guy Capoeman, president of the Quinault Indian Nation. "There has to be some sort of play on how that happens, whether we write off the cost of what their current house is appraised at, and then they would only pay the remainder of what is left, or what."
Capoeman said the tribe is looking into how buyouts and buybacks of homes in the lower village might work, as well as what funding sources — federal, state and private — could be available to help.
In addition to its funding for the Quinault Indian Nation, the Department of the Interior made two additional $25 million relocation grants, to the Newtok Village and Native Village of Napakiak, both in Alaska. Together, these three grants are intended to serve as demonstration projects for future climate resilience efforts, providing the federal government with a blueprint for best practices.
The Quinault hope that their story will not only provide the federal government with important learnings, but also help demonstrate the dangers the world faces from climate change, as well as the importance of place itself.
"So, you know, we have a very old tie to this place," Capoeman said. "Quinault ain't going to leave here anytime soon. We might go up on the hill, but we're not going to leave our land anytime soon."
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