UNCW Receives Federal Recognition as a National Center of Excellence in Cyber Defense Education

Friday, November 09, 2018

UNCW has been named a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education, a designation that will enable students to compete for federal and private cyber security jobs. The label means that UNCW’s Bachelor of Science in Information Technology with a minor in cyber security meets the academic standards set by the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency.

Ulku Clark, professor of management information systems, was instrumental in shepherding the university’s application through the lengthy process.

“Cyber security is a very important field because our systems are so exposed,” she said. “On almost a daily basis, we hear that some system has been compromised or that data have been stolen.”

The DHS and the NSA have made it a priority to encourage universities and community colleges to offer degree programs that meet the agencies’ rigorous standards as a means to improving the nation’s computer networks. Students who go through programs with the Center of Academic Excellence designation have a significant advantage in securing jobs with federal agencies as well as top private cyber security companies.

UNCW’s 2016-21 Strategic Plan emphasizes graduating students who are equipped with critical workforce skills and preparing them to compete in a constantly evolving job market.

The curriculum will provide students with up-to-date strategies and tools to safeguard computer networks. It is designed especially for students interested in a career with federal agencies that require employees with the most current knowledge about how to protect networks from hacking and data theft. As hackers become more sophisticated, government agencies, private businesses and individual computer owners have to adopt a comprehensive approach to network security, Clark said.

“Security is like an onion,” Clark explained. “You need layers and layers of security, not just a firewall and antivirus software. We also need to teach people how to track who is accessing data and how to prevent breaches.” The cyber security minor and DHS/NSA designation represent a collaboration between the Cameron School of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences.

“With technology playing a vital role in our global economy, universities must graduate more students who have the skills needed to help combat hacking and other threats to cyber security,” said CSB Dean Rob Burrus. “The DHS/NSA designation positions UNCW as a university that maintains the highest standards in cyber defense education.”

In April 2018, UNCW launched the Center for Cyber Defense Education, which is dedicated to raising awareness about information security issues for UNCW students, faculty and staff.

-- Tricia Vance

(Left to right) Bradford Willke, Ron Vetter, Ulku Clark, Diane Janosek.

Ron Vetter, professor of computer science (second from left), and Ulku Clark, professor of management information systems (second from right), accepted UNCW's designation as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education. Also pictured are Bradford Willke, an acting director in the Department of Homeland Security, and Diane Janosek, NSA deputy commandant, National Cryptologic School.