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Marshall designated National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education

Marshall University has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The designation extends through 2028 and was recognized at the National Cybersecurity Education Colloquium last month at Moraine Valley Community College near Chicago. Marshall President Brad D. Smith; Dr. David Dampier, director of Marshall’s Institute for Cyber Security; and Associate Professor Bill Gardner, Marshall’s NSA CAE coordinator, represented Marshall at the event.

“This designation puts the NSA and other federal agencies’ stamp of approval on Marshall University’s cybersecurity programs and helps to attract students to fill the cybersecurity shortage of skilled cybersecurity labor that currently exists,” said Gardner, who is also director of Marshall’s cyber forensics and security undergraduate program.

The CAE-CD designation is awarded to accredited academic institutions that offer cybersecurity degrees and/or certificates at the associate, bachelor’s and graduate levels. To qualify for the designation, programs must meet rigorous requirements by the National Security Agency and demonstrate their commitment to producing cybersecurity professionals that will reduce the vulnerabilities in the national infrastructure.

“Achieving the Center of Academic Excellence recognition from the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security is a testament to the quality of the academic programs at Marshall University,” said Dampier, who is also dean of Marshall’s College of Engineering and Computer Sciences. “This recognition will bring Marshall many opportunities for additional funding and recognition, especially for scholarship opportunities for our students.”

The NSA CAE-CD designation has been a longtime goal, said John Sammons, associate director of Marshall’s Institute for Cyber Security.

“It’s a reflection of a lot of hard work by our students and faculty,” Sammons said. “It speaks directly to the quality of the courses we teach and the graduates the program produces. Our grads have found success in a variety of state and federal agencies as well as the private sector. This designation will take our program to another level.”

The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) program collaborates with colleges and universities to develop a cybersecurity educational program that establishes high cybersecurity curriculum standards for academic excellence; incorporates competency development among students and faculty; involves community outreach and professional development; integrates cybersecurity with other academic disciplines; and pursues solutions cybersecurity education challenges.

NCAE-C is managed by NSA’s National Cryptologic School. Federal partners include the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)/National Initiative on Cybersecurity Education (NICE), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Defense Office of the Chief Information Officer (DoD-CIO) and U.S. Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM).

It has over 400 institutions across the United States with designations in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD), Cyber Research (CAE-R), and Cyber Operations (CAE-CO).

“The NSA CAE-CD designation recognizes Marshall as a critical part of the solution through interdisciplinary cybersecurity education, research and workforce development,” said Dr. Josh Brunty, director of Marshall’s cyber forensic and security graduate program. “This designation also empowers our faculty and staff to make the most of our collective cyber expertise, enabling us to effectively train future generations of cyber experts.”

For more information about Marshall’s Institute for Cyber Security and its cyber programs, visit


Media Contact

Jean Hardiman
University Relations Specialist