EDUCATION: UM intelligence center honored for excellence

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – It usually takes at least a decade for an academic program to earn recognition for excellence from a nationally acknowledged organization, but the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies at the University of Mississippi has managed to accomplish that feat in less than half that time.
The Director of National Intelligence recently designated the CISS as an Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence. Along with the recognition that comes with such an honor, CAE schools receive several years of funding from the federal government to develop courses, fund student study abroad opportunities and run conferences and workshops.
“I am especially happy about what this means for our students,” said Carl Jensen, CISS director. “It is further validation that the IC approves of our educational model and the recognition will open doors for Ole Miss students in the future.”
While many universities and colleges have applied for the CAE program, few were selected. Other CAE schools include Penn State, Virginia Tech, Howard University, Creighton University and the universities of Maryland, Texas at El Paso and South Florida.
“With this award, we can fund opportunities for UM students that will broaden their horizons, increase collaboration with students from other CAE schools and enhance their education,” Jensen said.
Jensen and Melissa Graves, CISS project coordinator and instructor, began outreach efforts with Jackson State University in 2010 to establish a Mississippi consortium to apply for CAE status. UM and JSU were able to leverage their complementary strengths, which made them especially competitive in the application process.
“Members of the IC tell us over and over how they support our approach to educating students,” Graves said. “Many characterize it as ‘an ROTC program’ for intelligence. By that, they mean we seek out high-performing students in a wide variety of disciplines and educate them so they are prepared for entry level positions in the intelligence world.”
Established in 2008, CISS has graduated 18 students, with most alumni serving in the intelligence community, government (including legislative aides for senators) and the military. The program has 38 enrolled this semester.