Heather Henley, Augusta University
United States servicemembers stationed at Fort Gordon and around the world will now have the opportunity to further their education at their own pace and from wherever they are located, thanks to an ongoing partnership between Augusta University and the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence (CCoE).
Augusta University President Brooks A. Keel, PhD, and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon, Maj. Gen. Paul Stanton, signed a memorandum of understanding to launch a program that aims to enhance the nation’s cybersecurity and intelligence domain readiness Jan. 19 at Augusta University.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to continue our strategic partnership with the U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence, which first began in 2016,” said Keel. “Augusta University appreciates the service of our nation’s servicemembers, those serving in the intelligence community, at home and abroad, and for all of the family members who support them. These asynchronous programs will allow the flexibility our servicemembers need when they’re trying to fit classwork into their already busy schedules.”
The partnership also marks the launch of the university’s first fully online graduate degree programs offered through Augusta University Online.
The agreement establishes the terms for awarding course credit from AU to military personnel who have completed training/education courses at the CCoE and expands graduate education opportunities by enabling servicemembers to complete their master’s degree 100% online.
“Balancing the demands of military service, family and education is a daunting challenge. We believe this partnership and the Augusta University Online learning platform will make degree attainment well within the reach of all of our country’s dedicated servicemembers,” said Marc Austin, associate provost and dean of Augusta University Online. “We are thrilled that Augusta University Online’s very first programs are being launched in partnership with the Army Cyber Center of Excellence. I look forward to proudly shaking the hand of each and every service member as they cross the graduation stage in just a few years.”
The programs include the Master of Science in Information Security Management, offered through the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences and led by its dean Alex Schwarzmann and James Smith, and the Master of Arts in Intelligence and Security Studies, offered through Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences and led by Kim Davies and Craig Albert.
Both these areas of study are vital to our nation’s security, Stanton and Keel agreed.
“There is a requirement for our soldiers to continue their education, their self-development. The rate of change of technology, of our adversaries, demands an educational foundation upon which our soldiers can be dynamic in the face of these changes,” said Stanton. “Partnerships like that with Augusta University help ensure that our formations have that educational underpinning, and it is why a partnership like this is so powerful.”
Keel noted that the nation is facing crisis-level worker shortages in cybersecurity, with half a million jobs unfilled across the nation and thousands of workers needed in the Augusta area alone.
“These programs of study are crucial to our national security, and through this partnership, Augusta University and the Army Cyber Center of Excellence are demonstrating our commitment to creating a strong and consistent pipeline to fill key IT, cybersecurity, and intelligence community roles throughout our city, state and nation,” Keel said. “This partnership comes as we launch our newest academic support unit, Augusta University Online. Our online offerings, along with strategic partnerships such as with the Army Cyber Center of Excellence, will be key in helping Augusta University reach the aspirational goal of enrolling 16,000 students by 2030.”
The new agreement furthers the growth of the School of Computer and Cyber Sciences and the Pamplin College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. SCCS has more than doubled its student enrollment to over 700 and quadrupled its faculty to over 40 since 2018, while Pamplin’s Master of Arts in Intelligence and Security Studies program, launched in 2018, has grown its enrollment by more than 450 percent, with a quarter of these students having Department of Defense affiliations. In 2021, SCCS launched its first doctoral program in computer and cyber sciences, while Pamplin plans to offer a PhD in Intelligence and Security Studies starting in 2025.
“Partnerships with Augusta University are the pinnacle of what it means to work together,” said Stanton. “The willingness of AU to adjust and develop and design a curriculum that fits right into what our soldiers need, it’s unprecedented and frankly, it’s the way of the future.”