Montreat College was presented with a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education certificate by the National Security Agency (NSA) and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) during a designation ceremony at the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Conference on November 7-8, 2017, in Dayton, Ohio. Montreat College is the first member of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) to receive this designation and just the fourth four-year school in North Carolina.

Montreat College President Paul J. Maurer, Vice President for Academic Affairs Greg Kerr, and Cybersecurity Professor Kelli Burgin represented the college at the NICE Conference, which features thought leaders from education, government, industry, and non-profits who are addressing the cybersecurity education, training, and workforce needs of the nation. The Montreat College delegation was presented with its certificate by Leonard Reinsfelder, commandant of the NSA’s National Cryptologic School, and Daniel Stein, branch chief of cybersecurity education and awareness for the DHS.

“It is an honor for Montreat College to be recognized as a cybersecurity leader in this way,” said President 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 NSA and DHS to bring solutions to one of the major national crises of our time.”

According to the NSA and DHS, “[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… 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 cybersecurity programs, and hosts the annual RETR3AT Cybersecurity Conference on its campus each fall. The 2017 RETR3AT conference took place on October 27 and featured an A-list of national cybersecurity leaders, including keynote speaker U.S. Department of Energy Chief Information Officer Max Everett.

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, who has teamed with Montreat College to develop cybersecurity professionals who have both technical expertise and the ethical framework necessary to become leaders in the cybersecurity field.