Central named NSA Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense


Central Connecticut State University’s commitment to cybersecurity just went national.

On Nov. 15, the National Security Agency informed the university that it has achieved the designation of National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense (CAE-CD) through academic year 2028. 

Central joins three fellow national centers in Connecticut: The United States Coast Guard Academy, Quinnipiac University, and Sacred Heart University.

Central became eligible for CAE-CD designation in June, after the NSA validated the university’s Cyber Defense academic program. The program is one of three tracks available to Cybersecurity majors at Central.

The mission of the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity program is to create a collaborative cybersecurity educational program with selected partners in higher education. The program aims to establish cybersecurity curriculum standards; integrate cybersecurity practices across academic disciplines; and find solutions to challenges facing cybersecurity education, among other goals.

In an announcement to campus leadership, center coordinators Dr. Chad Williams and Dr. Xiaobing Hou wrote, “This prestigious recognition is a testament to the exceptional interdisciplinary efforts of our faculty, students, and staff in advancing cybersecurity education. Our pursuit of excellence in cybersecurity aligns with Central’s commitment to cutting-edge research and innovative teaching, while preparing students for the challenges of the digital age.”

Williams and Hou also applauded their colleagues in various academic departments for their work in making the designation and program possible. Participating departments include Computer Science; Computer Electronics & Graphic Technology; Political Science; Criminology and Criminal Justice; and Mathematical Sciences.

Renae Weathers, director of the National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity, noted, “A highly skilled cybersecurity workforce is a strategic national security advantage. We will continue to invest in and enhance programs that build the domestic talent pipeline, from primary through postsecondary education.”