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Southern University to open cybersecurity center near Quantico

Southern University has entered into a partnership with one of the largest centers for cybersecurity near the nation’s capital and adjacent to Marine Corps Base Quantico. The university, along with the Southern University System Foundation, has launched a new Center of Excellence for Cybersecurity with X Corp Solutions. The venture aims to train and certify professionals in cybersecurity, a high-demand sector, across the nation and around the world.                                                                        


“This is a game-changer for Southern and an example of how we respond to the demands of our society,” said Ray L. Belton, president of the Southern University System and chancellor of Southern University Baton Rouge. “For nearly 140 years, we have heeded the call for career readiness and success, influencing this nation’s economic development and the lives of millions. We continue that today by adding cybersecurity to our portfolio of academic offerings.”


With countless data breaches, cybersecurity is a consistently in-demand field. However, the number of qualified employees remains slim. According to the latest data from CyberSeek, a component of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology, employers have fewer trained cybersecurity employees to choose from and must look to other tactics, including training current workers or training new talent. That demand is something Southern will fill, Belton said. 


With an office in the Washington area near the FBI training and research academy and other employers, the Center of Excellence will offer a number of certifications to individuals seeking to enter or expand their skill set. Employers will also be able to send staff to the Center to obtain necessary credentials. 


While the main office is on the east coast, Southern’s on-campus and online students, faculty and staff will also benefit from the Center’s offerings.


“This Center creates a fertile ground for our students and faculty in terms of internships, research opportunities, and entrepreneurship,” said James Ammons, the university’s chief academic officer. “We will offer classes in our curriculum, and students and will be able to walk across the stage at commencement with a degree and a number of certifications. This definitely gives them a competitive edge in this global marketplace.”


The center will provide state-of-the-art classrooms and conference rooms where Southern will hire faculty and select students as they work on cybersecurity research projects and collaborate on contract proposals with X Corp and other members of the American Cyber League (ACL). 


The ACL’s mission is to establish a collaborative “Cyber Domain Ecosystem” where people, processes and capabilities are brought together to customize solutions for customers and accelerate the operational implementation of Advanced Cyber Technologies in support of national security. Classroom lectures taking place at the Quantico Corporate Center can be broadcast back to classrooms at Southern’s campuses. Additionally, Southern will assist X Corp and the ACL in creating certification programs for professionals already working in the cyber security field, or those hoping to join it. The three-floor facility will feature a café, traditional and global classrooms; a certified testing center, conference room, and administrative offices. It is slated to open and begin offering courses by August.


The Center is located in a HUBZone, a designation by the U.S.Small Business Administration program for small companies that operate and employ people in Historically Under-utilized Business Zones.