College Earns National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Designation

The National Security Agency has designated Gaston College a National Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense. Institutions receiving this designation have met rigorous requirements established by the NSA and have a commitment to “producing cybersecurity professionals that will reduce vulnerabilities in our national infrastructure,” as per the Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity. National Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity Logo

“This CAE-CD designation is a testament to the strong and rigorous academic community that exists at Gaston College,” said Dr. John Hauser, president of Gaston College. “The need for cybersecurity jobs is at an all-time high in our region in all industry sectors and this will be a tremendous asset to the continued economic growth of our area.” 

The designation is for the College’s Information Technology Networking and Cyber Defense program. All of the program’s curriculum and select course assignments were reviewed and approved by a team from the NSA, and, in January 2022, the College received Program of Study validation, the first step toward full CAE-CD designation.  

The letter from the NSA notifying Gaston College of its CAE-CD designation stated that the College’s “ability to meet the increasing demands of the program validation will serve the nation well in contributing to the protection of the National Information Infrastructure.” 

Dr. Mark Shellman, Information Technology department chair, along with Jimmy Warren, IT instructor, and Dr. Lisa Albright-Jurs, Dean of Career and Technical Education, spearheaded the efforts to earn the CAE-CD designation. “I am extremely proud to have been part of this major achievement for Gaston College,” said Dr. Shellman. “This is only the beginning in Network and Cyber Defense education here, with new accomplishments on the horizon.” 

With the help of $2,000,000 in state funding, cybersecurity labs will be coming to all three of Gaston College’s campuses as early as this fall. The funds will be used for the renovation of facilities and the purchase of specialized equipment. With this enhanced focus and the prestigious CAE-CD designation, Gaston College is poised to become a leader in cybersecurity and defense. 
For more information about the Gaston College Cybersecurity program, visit

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