FHSU Earns Redesignation as a Center for Excellence in Cyber Defense

By FHSU University Communications

Hays, KS The National Security Agency (NSA) and the Department of Homeland Security recently redesignated Fort Hays State University as a Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD).


Dr. Melissa Hunsicker Walburn, chair of the Department of Informatics at FHSU, and Mr. Jason Zeller, the department’s cybersecurity faculty lead, accepted the award at a ceremony held in conjunction with the Spring 2022 National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) conference and expo in Atlanta, Ga. 


Hunsicker Walburn welcomed the re-designation that will extend through 2027, noting that programs earning this redesignation demonstrated quality through alignment with the high standards set by the NSA. 


“We work hard to ensure our programs are dynamic and evolving to meet the current and future cybersecurity talent needs of government and business. Opportunities in this area are abundant for people with the right skills,” she said.


“While the standards for this designation are high, this redesignation affirms a quality baseline for students seeking a credential, as well as current professionals looking for a pathway to upskill.”


Zeller added that in addition to curriculum aligning to standards, the redesignation process requires community outreach and evidence of experiential student learning opportunities. “Our commitment to students learning in hands-on experiences can be a differentiator.  Those experiences force you to learn problem-solving skills that can be difficult to teach, but are important to challenge students to develop through experience.” 


The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency(CISA), an operational component of the Department of Homeland Security, works with the National Security Agency (NSA) on the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) program.


The partnership aims to help reduce vulnerabilities in our national and critical infrastructure by promoting higher education and expertise in cybersecurity.


The National Center of Academic Excellence (NCAE) designation program promotes higher education programs in information assurance and cyber defense to address the critical shortage of professionals with these skills, highlighting higher education’s vital role in defending America’s cyberspace.


FHSU was the first Kansas institution to earn this designation in 2009.


The NCAE designation is awarded only to educational institutions that meet the standards of excellence for cyber security established by the NSA and DHS. The criteria have expanded in scope and increased in number over the past few years as security and technology challenges evolve rapidly.


 FHSU’s Informatics Department offers graduate and undergraduate cyber security/information assurance programs. For more information, visit www.fhsu.edu/informatics.

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