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Mercyhurst announces $1 million for cyber center

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mercyhurst University announced today a $1 million investment from national technology company MCPc that will take the Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences to the next level by accelerating the expansion of its innovative cybersecurity program.

The Cleveland-based company, with offices in Erie, will create a cyber lab in Hammermill Library, which will be used by the Ridge College to educate students in the high-tech cyber field. Directly adjacent to the lab, MCPc will create and manage a high-security Network Operation Center that will employ Mercyhurst students.

The announcement was made on Tuesday, July 25, during a 10 a.m. press conference in the university’s Center for Academic Engagement, home of the Ridge College. Joining Mercyhurst President Michael T. Victor in announcing the MCPc partnership was MCPc CEO Andy Jones.

Simultaneously, Victor announced the naming of a new dean for the Ridge College, and two other faculty leaders, charged with taking the university’s intelligence studies program into a new era of growth and innovation.

Former Pennsylvania Governor and the nation’s first U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, after whom the Ridge College is named, said, “Mercyhurst University’s intelligence studies program enjoys a global reputation for world-class research, exceptional teaching and student outcomes. The construction of new cyber training facilities and today’s introduction of three new leaders make for a potent combination that will ensure Mercyhurst remains the vanguard of the field.”

Following a national search, the university has chosen Lieutenant Col. U.S. Army (Retired) Duncan E. McGill, Ph.D., of Manassas, Virginia, as dean of the Ridge College. McGill has spent more than a decade in various academic and administrative leadership capacities at the National Intelligence University (NIU). Most recently, he served as associate dean of the NIU’s College of Strategic Intelligence. He replaces James Breckenridge, Ph.D., who recently became  provost of the U.S. Army War College (USAWC) in Carlisle.

Victor also announced two more high-level leadership appointments to the Ridge College.

Tapped to lead the college’s cyber initiatives, including the new MCPc Cyber Lab, is U.S. Navy Cyber Analyst Chad Griffin, whose expertise includes providing IT, cybersecurity and intelligence analysis to the U.S. Navy and U.S. Pacific Command. Charged with heading the college’s data science program is M. Afzal Upal, Ph.D., senior data scientist for Canada’s Department of National Defence. He combines many years of experience as a data scientist supporting intelligence analysts with a proven track record in scholarship and peer-reviewed publications. (SEE SEPARATE STORY: Ridge College announces new leadership)

Also new this year to the intel team is Benjamin Baughman, Ph.D., a former detective and crime analyst with the Raleigh, North Carolina, Police Department, and an instructor in disciplines blending psychology and criminal justice.

“Taken individually, each of these recent developments speaks to Mercyhurst University’s continued dedication to advance our pioneering intelligence studies program, which is known and respected around the world,” said Victor. “Taken together, these additions to the Ridge College expose our students to some of the best technology and experts in the field and place us among only a handful of universities in the country with these kinds of facilities.”

Mercyhurst Provost David Dausey said MCPc’s expertise in cybersecurity “will build upon Mercyhurst’s strengths as a leader in the field of intelligence studies, and develop a pipeline of work-ready talent to meet the nation’s cyber needs.”

A recent report from Cisco puts the global figure at one million cybersecurity job openings, with demand expected to rise to six million by 2019.

The cyber lab will include 20 work stations and be used as a teaching facility by Mercyhurst intelligence studies faculty and students. The operations center will accommodate at least 16 student-employees. An MCPc associate will oversee the students, whose customers will be actual MCPc clients.

Victor described the commitment from MCPc as being closely aligned with the university’s goal of preparing students for real-world job experiences. About a third of the five-year commitment from MCPc includes stipends that will pay students at industry rates for their services in the center.

In addition to crediting Dausey for his role in facilitating the MCPc partnership, Victor also recognized Cal Pifer, vice president for external relations and advancement, for his part in bringing the project to fruition.

Kidder Wachter Architecture & Design of Erie is expected to complete the architectural work this summer, with construction planned for fall. Projections are the cyber lab and Network Operation Center will be ready by spring semester 2018.

About Mercyhurst University – Mercyhurst University, founded in 1926 by the Sisters of Mercy, is a fully accredited, four-year, Catholic comprehensive institution for men and women in Erie, Pennsylvania. The university offers more than 60 undergraduate majors, nine graduate programs, and a variety of post-baccalaureate and advanced certificates. In addition, Mercyhurst provides certificate and associate degree offerings at branch campuses in North East, Corry and the Booker T. Washington Center. It also maintains an academic center in Dungarvan, Ireland. Learn more at www.mercyhurst.edu.

About MCPc – MCPc has been doing business since even before the computer became personal. Headquartered in Cleveland, our customers include some of the most prominent Fortune 500 companies, hospital systems and financial institutions in America. We maintain offices and technology logistic centers in eight locations throughout the United States, and our staff can be deployed anywhere to meet our customers’ specific IT needs.  Through a process we call Secure Technology Logistics, we have innovated a suite of services that includes helping customers select and manage the myriad of devices they use to do business – from desktops and handhelds to any equipment that contains sensitive patient, customer or patent data.  And when those devices need to be recycled or repurposed, and their data needs to be transferred, archived or destroyed, MCPc manages that, as well. We provide 24/7/365 monitoring of a customer’s IT fleet for functionality and security, ensuring that their business runs continuously and can meet industry or government regulatory standards. We take pride in our support of communities where we do business and our commitment to continued education, sustainability and a diverse workforce. 

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