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Engaging the Academic Community in our Homeland Security Mission

Last week, I joined the Homeland Security Academic Advisory Council (HSAAC) to announce an important milestone in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) engagement with the academic community – the renewal of the Council’s charter by Secretary Jeh Johnson. Comprised of 23 university presidents and academic leaders from across the nation, the Council has delivered over 80 recommendations on issues related to homeland security and the academic community since March 2012.

DHS is acting on many of the Council’s recommendations, such as enhancing the Department’s engagement with the international student community, taking steps to improve college and university emergency preparedness, and increasing outreach to students, faculty and schools.

DHS has also embarked on several initiatives to develop the next generation of homeland security leaders. In December, we announced the expansion of the Secretary’s Honors Program Cyber Student Volunteer Initiative, a program that provides 2-year and 4-year college students with assignments that support DHS’s cyber mission. This year, the initiative received almost 1700 applicants for over 110 volunteer assignments at local DHS field offices at more than 60 locations across the country.

To develop the initiative, Secretary Johnson, along with National Protection and Programs Directorate Deputy Under Secretary for Cybersecurity Dr. Phyllis Schneck have already begun visiting college campuses to continue developing the next generation of cybersecurity workforce leaders. Secretary Johnson and Deputy Under Secretary Schneck have visited Georgia Tech and Morehouse College to meet with students. These meetings are the latest step in DHS’s ongoing efforts to attract the best and brightest cyber talent to support the Department’s important cybersecurity mission.

In the coming year, we look forward to building upon these numerous accomplishments and expanding our work with the Council under the leadership of its new Chair, Dr. R. Bowen Loftin, Chancellor of the University of Missouri. We are also honored to welcome David Esquith, David Adams, and Ed Ramotowski to the Council, who will serve as ex-officio members representing the Departments of Education, Justice and State, respectively. Their combined expertise will help DHS look at new and innovative ways of working with our partners in the government and throughout the private sector on these important issues.

DHS is proud to work with these leaders and is committed to building a strong and lasting relationship with the academic community. Learn more about the HSAAC here.

For more information on DHS and academic engagement, visit http://www.dhs.gov/topic/academic-engagement, or sign up for email updates through DHS’s GovDelivery service.

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