Skip to main content

Cyber Director Praises NSU Cyber Program

During his visit to Norfolk State University, National Cyber Director Harry Coker Jr. praised Norfolk State for its exemplary cybersecurity program. He based his assessment on the University’s designation by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security as a Center of Academic Excellence.   

“I’m here today because Norfolk State has been a pioneer – helping expand opportunities for students in the cyber workforce here in Virginia and across the country,” Coker said. “And I wanted to come and see for myself what was working well – and what we need to do better. We want to learn from you and help spread best practices across the nation.”

What he saw and heard impressed him.

“We had an opportunity to meet with about 20 students,” said Coker. “Being able to interact with them, I could tell they had knowledge as we noted they asked some pretty tough questions. They asked some questions that just told us that they knew what they were talking about.”

In 2009, NSU became one of the nation’s first HBCUs to earn the CAE recognition and has held that designation for 15 years.  Along with local partners, NSU created a collaborative effort with the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center – Old Dominion University to establish and operate a CAE in Cybersecurity, emphasizing Cyber Modeling, Simulation, Analysis, and Experimentation.


For Coker, the Norfolk State visit was his second to a higher education institution and his first to a 4-year university since being confirmed by the Senate and sworn in in December. Part of his mission is to diversify the cyber security workforce by reaching out to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

He noted that cybersecurity presents a challenge and an opportunity – a challenge because of the number of cyberattacks being experienced and the need for more cyber professionals. An opportunity – because the nation has an abundance of talented individuals that could help fill those professionals.

Taking advantage of the opportunity requires a host of solutions, Coker said. “It requires us to reach out to communities that haven’t traditionally been recruited – nor have they seen themselves in cybersecurity or technology.”

He said that Black Americans, women, and other minority communities are particularly underrepresented in cyber jobs and that while Black Americans make up 12% of the workforce, they only make up 8% of the technology workforce.  Leading a roundtable discussion with Historically Black Colleges and Universities hosted by Norfolk State, Coker touted HBCUs seeking designation as a Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity, encouraging more HBCUs to earn the recognition.

“With this Center of Academic Excellence in Cybersecurity designation, your school and your students will have access to enhanced curricula, more career services, and more scholarship opportunities. You’ll be in a network of like-minded schools. And – importantly – you’ll be able to unlock more federal resources,” Coker said.


The NSA has designated 17 of the 107 HBCUs as Centers of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense. “During the Biden-Harris Administration, 7 of those 17 HBCUs have received the CAE designation, the most rapid expansion to date,” the director said.

In closing, Coker envisioned meeting the challenges and opportunities in unison. “Together, we will address cyber workforce demands, build long-term workforce capacity, and position all Americans to benefit from the enormous potential of our interconnected future.”

Coverage of the Cyber Director's Visit at NSU

Photos of the Cyber Director's Visit at NSU



NSU Roundtable with National Cyber Director