UCCS third in the nation for cybersecurity community outreach, Bliss awarded Community Service Recognition

Since joining UCCS as the Director of Cybersecurity programs, Gretchen Bliss has been a relentless advocate for cybersecurity for the campus and for the community. A pursuit that is nothing new for Bliss, having lead cybersecurity efforts at Pikes Peak State College for five years, and before that Bliss served as the NORAD Deputy Senior Analyst and Chief of Plans for 25 years, supporting the government’s efforts in understanding the evolution of cyber information operations and warfare.  

Her efforts have recently been recognized by the National Centers for Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (CAE). The CAE Community of Practice for Cyber Defense (CoP-CD) has awarded Gretchen Bliss a Community Service Recognition Award, and it has awarded the University of Colorado Colorado Springs 3rd place in the nation in the 2022 CAE-CD Community Outreach Awards.  

2022 CAE CoP-CD Community Service Recognition Award 

The 2022 CAE CoP-CD Community Service Recognition Award was given to Bliss for her dedicated involvement in the CAE community and for her efforts in advancing education in cyber defense. Bliss has worked tirelessly to represent UCCS on the national stage — raising the visibility of the UCCS POWER Cybersecurity Strategy and ensuring UCCS is a recognized leader in cybersecurity education. Bliss served on the 2022 and 2023 CAE Community Symposium – CAE-CD Planning Committees. She also co-founded and co-chaired the Getting to Know Your Fellow CAEs Initiative. Created in 2021, the initiative hosts a monthly series at which CAE-CD partners present their programs and activities. With over 400 CAE accredited institutions, this initiative has allowed CAE-CD members and UCCS to build lasting connections and an interconnected community that can advance knowledge through collaborative relationships.  

University of Colorado Colorado Springs – 3rd Place 2022 CAE-CD Community Outreach Award 

The Community Outreach Award initiative was created to recognize the CAE institutions who are going above and beyond through outstanding outreach. In 2022, UCCS conducted 60 outreach events and touched over 2,200 students, government, industry and community partners. Each CAEs’ outreach activities were evaluated by three criteria:  

  1. Impact, which measured the number of groups and organizations that are being affected, the total number of attendees, the durations and frequencies of the events and effectiveness of outreach materials. 
  1. Diversity, which considered the number of different kinds of groups, the inclusion of minority and underrepresented groups in the cybersecurity profession and the spectrum of the age groups. 
  1. Effort Measures that included evidence of CAEs’ promotion and engagement in outreach events and the total number of outreach events provided by the CAEs. 

These awards recognize the remarkable work Bliss and UCCS are doing in the cybersecurity and cyber defense community.  

The National Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity 

In 1999, the National Security Agency (NSA) launched the Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAE-IAE) program. Under this program, an institution could receive the CAE-IAE designation if it passed rigorous curriculum and program requirements. Over the years, the certification developed along with advancements in technology eventually becoming the Centers of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity (NCAE-C) Program. 

Institutions that receive a CAE-C designation have met the rigorous requirements set forth by the sponsor of the program, the National Security Agency (NSA). The NSA awards CAE-C designations to institutions that commit to producing cybersecurity professionals that will reduce vulnerabilities in our national infrastructure. Today, the NCAE-C program has over 400 institutions all over the nation. 

The CAE Community of Practice for Cyber Defense  

Under the Center for Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity is the Community of Practice for Cyber Defense, whose mission is to collaborate with both the CAE Community and the NCAE-C Program Management Office (PMO) to build a Cybersecurity Excellence Community of Practice in Cyber Defense (CoP-CD) in order to gather and share input from the broader community as well as to provide continuous program improvement. 

About Cybersecurity at UCCS 

UCCS is a recognized cybersecurity education leader in the region, awarding hundreds of degrees each year in cybersecurity fields at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels. UCCS cybersecurity programs train security professionals who work to ensure the Nation’s security and support faculty research and strategic cybersecurity partnerships with industry, government, military and academic institutions, including the U.S. Space Force and the National Cybersecurity Center. UCCS’ first designation as a Center of Academic Excellence (CAE) for Cyber Defense was awarded in 2012 and redesignated in 2022. Today, UCCS offers over 20 degrees and programs for cybersecurity across 5 colleges. Under the leadership of Dr. Shouhuai Xu, UCCS is also pursuing the CAE designation for Research in 2023.  Due to generous Colorado state funding of cybersecurity education, UCCS students are eligible for significant financial aid towards security degree scholarships. Learn more about Cybersecurity Programs at UCCS.