NSA designates Montreat College a National Center of Academic Excellence

Touring Montreat College’s new cybersecurity teaching lab recently were (from left) Stephan Smith of lab donor eGlobalTech; Jon Brown, Mission Health System chief information officer; Montreat College president Paul Maurer; U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence; and Brian Cyprian, supervisory special agent of the Charlotte field office of the FBI.

Montreat College has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security. Montreat College is the first member of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities and the fourth four-year school in North Carolina to receive the designation.

Montreat College’s "ability to meet the increasing demands of the program criteria will serve the nation well in contributing to the protection of the National Information Infrastructure," the notification from the NSA and DHS states. "Like all nations, the United States has a compelling interest in defending its vital national assets, as well as our core principles and values, and we are committed to defending against those who would attempt to impede our ability to do so. Education is the key to promoting these ideals.”

Montreat College has become a regional leader in cybersecurity education in recent years. The college offers both seated and online undergraduate programs and hosts the annual RETR3AT Cybersecurity Conference on its campus each fall. This year’s RETR3AT will take place Oct. 27 and feature U.S. Department of Energy chief information officer Max Everett as keynote speaker.

Montreat College teaches its students in a Cybersecurity Operations Teaching Lab, patterned after industry and government security operations centers. The lab was made possible by a group of donors, led by Mission Health, that have teamed with Montreat College to develop cybersecurity professionals who have technical expertise and the ethical framework necessary to become leaders in the cybersecurity field.

“We are pleased with this national recognition of Montreat College’s leadership in cybersecurity education,” said Montreat College president Paul J. Maurer. “Cybersecurity is the national security threat of our age. Montreat has focused on not only building a strong technical program, but we are advocating at a national level what we believe is a significant gap in cyber education.

"At its core, cybersecurity is a people problem more than a technical problem. Therefore, it is essential that cyber education places a strong emphasis on the character and ethics of the nation’s cyber leaders and operators. We look forward to working with the National Security Agency and Department of Homeland Security to bring solutions to one of the major national crises of our time.”

National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education certificates will be presented during a designation ceremony at the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education Conference on Nov. 7-8 in Dayton, Ohio.