Blue Ridge Community College faculty and staff display a letter from the National Security Agency designating the college as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education.
Pictured in the first row, from left to right: Steve Young, chief information officer; Dr. Laura B. Leatherwood, president; Brenda Blackburn, dean for business and service careers; and Kathy Allen, vice president for instruction. Pictured in the second row, from left to right, are: Jana Hosmer, faculty chair of business programs; Dr. Scott Queen, vice president of economic and workforce development; Daniel Rickert, information technology faculty coordinator; and Tonya Stephens, information technology instructor. (Photo by: Benjamin Rickert. A high resolution photo is available on Google Drive.)
HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – Blue Ridge Community College has joined an elite group of higher education institutions across the country providing cutting edge cybersecurity training. On Wednesday, Aug. 3, the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States of America designated Blue Ridge as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) Education. Only 15 other North Carolina institutions share this designation.
“This recognition underscores Blue Ridge Community College’s commitment to providing excellence in information technology education while addressing the critical shortage of professionals in our nation and community with cybersecurity skills,” said Brenda Blackburn, Blue Ridge’s Dean for Business and Service Careers. “Our college is proud to help defend America’s cyberspace by equipping the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.”
The cyber defense designation is awarded only to regionally-accredited academic institutions offering cybersecurity certificates and/or degrees at the associates, bachelors, and graduate levels. The NSA spent months analyzing college data, infrastructure and accomplishments before naming Blue Ridge a Center of Academic Excellence through 2027.
“Blue Ridge Community College has worked diligently to establish a program that prepares students for successful careers in cybersecurity,” explained Steve Young, Blue Ridge’s Chief Information Officer. “This designation acknowledges these efforts while opening the door to even more resources and opportunities for our students in the field of cybersecurity. There will be substantial ongoing benefits for our current and future students.”
There are currently two pathways for students to pursue a cybersecurity education at Blue Ridge Community College. Within the Information Technology program, students may pursue the Network Management Pathway or the newer Cybersecurity Pathway. The Network Management Pathway was critical in earning Blue Ridge the CAE-CD designation.
Community members such as students, seniors, small business leaders, and professionals can now find cybersecurity resources through Blue Ridge’s online Cyber Defense Education Center.
“Our college has a longstanding commitment to building a competitive workforce pipeline beginning with relevant and excellent instruction,” said Dr. Laura B. Leatherwood, president of Blue Ridge Community College. “I could not be more proud of our Information Technology faculty and staff for creating a cybersecurity program that is among our nation’s finest.”