BHEF Expands HEWI and Launches the Massachusetts Cyber Network at Third Annual National Cybersecurity Network Convening

Former Raytheon Chairman and CEO William H. Swanson Leads Cybersecurity Leadership Roundtable Panel Highlighting National Needs for Strong Cyber-educated Workforce

Boston, MA (December 2) — On Tuesday, the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) announced the creation of the Massachusetts Cybersecurity Network and the development of new cybersecurity majors at the University of Massachusetts (UMass), the first site expansion of BHEF’s cyber strategy. The announcement came during the 2014 National Cybersecurity Network Workforce Summit, which convened top leaders from business, academia, associations, and state and federal agencies.

Funded by a $4.5M National Science Foundation Grant, UMass is one of five member sites slated to build new undergraduate pathways and improve student outcomes in STEM majors. The UMass project will evaluate the unique role companies can play in improving retention and persistence rates of students in high-skill, high-demand fields, such as cybersecurity. A key component of this strategy includes increasing the diversity of STEM graduating classes by attracting more community college students and assisting with their successful transfer to baccalaureate programs.

The event included a leadership roundtable moderated by BHEF member and past chair William H. Swanson, former chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Raytheon Company, who was joined by business thought leaders James Noga, vice president and chief information officer, Partners HealthCare; John O’Connor, executive vice president, corporate risk & security, Fidelity Investments; Chris Perretta, chief information officer, State Street Corporation; Ronald E. Plesco, Jr., principal and national lead, cyber investigations, intelligence & analytics, KPMG LLP; Jeff Snyder, vice president, cyber programs, Raytheon Company; and Amit Yoran, president of RSA, EMC.

During the Cybersecurity Leadership Roundtable, panelists discussed the cybersecurity landscape in relation to economic growth and national security, shared their vision on the importance of partnerships for growing the nation’s pipeline, and addressed how cybersecurity cuts across all sections in the economy, highlighting Massachusetts as a key example.

“Massachusetts enjoys a long tradition of strong partnerships between business and higher education, and it's been my privilege to have been part of several of them,” stated Swanson. “BHEF’s cyber network expansion will open new doors that will be a win-win for Massachusetts’ students and economy. This, along with BHEF's collaboration with MACP, will become a benchmark for states that want to strengthen and diversify their regional workforce using models with a proven track record.”

Hosted by BHEF and the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership (MACP), the day featured sessions on the role of federal agencies in building the cybersecurity workforce of the future, priorities for expanding BHEF’s National Cybersecurity Network across the nation, and the cybersecurity programs and innovations at UMass.

“UMass and BHEF are vital partners in the launch of this cutting-edge undergraduate cybersecurity program,” noted Robert L. Caret, president of the University of Massachusetts system. “Our participation in BHEF’s work connects UMass with national opportunities that benefit our students and communities. We’re proud to be one of the five sites selected for BHEF’s grant with the National Science Foundation to diversify and strengthen undergraduate outcomes in cyber, which is essential to the Commonwealth.”  

BHEF CEO Brian Fitzgerald stated: “We are delighted to welcome our new partners in Massachusetts and our Massachusetts Cybersecurity Network. Massachusetts is one of the high-impact expansion channels identified through the Gates Foundation-funded cyber planning process, and with the generous support of NSF, this new program creates synergy with other cybersecurity networks and builds diversity in the field. This is an exciting time for business, higher education, and most importantly, the college students who will participate in these cutting-edge cybersecurity programs. We thank Bob Caret and UMass, Bill Swanson, and the Massachusetts Competitive Partnership for their leadership in this groundbreaking work.”

About the National Cybersecurity Network
Launched at the Sloan Foundation in December 2012, the BHEF National Cybersecurity Network brings distinguished leaders from business, higher education, and government together to increase collaboration and resources during the first two years of college, which has been shown as the turning point in STEM undergraduate education. Through BHEF’s model of strategic engagement, BHEF business and academic members are introducing innovative new programs in cyber to help students persist and complete degrees that will lead to successful careers as cyber-professionals.

About the Business-Higher Education Forum
Now in its 36th year, BHEF is the nation's oldest membership organization of Fortune 500 CEOs, prominent college and university presidents, and other leaders dedicated to advancing innovative education and workforce solutions and improving U.S. competitiveness. BHEF's business and academic members collaborate in regions across the country to design and deploy education-workforce solutions in the high-demand and emerging fields that are so critical to innovation and national security. BHEF and its members drive change locally, work to influence public policy at the national and state levels, and inspire other leaders to act.