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Political leaders, law enforcement and intelligence professionals, as well as students, staff, and faculty from Notre Dame College, gathered on campus to unveil the College’s Center for Intelligence and Security Studies.

The opening of the newly constructed Cybersecurity Lab and Situation Room for cybersecurity, intelligence studies and emergency management policy studies degree-seeking students at the College is a five-year, $2.1 million dollar project, funded through a Title III grant from the U.S. Department of Education.

Notre Dame College is one of only a handful of institutions offering these programs in Ohio and will expand all three degrees to online learning by fall of 2021.

“In the spirit of thanks and gratitude, I am pleased to open this portal of opportunity for our students, our community and the world,” said Notre Dame President J. Michael Pressimone, Ed.D., as he cut the red ribbon and officially opened the high-tech classrooms in Regina Hall on the College campus.

Mission-driven Students

Students of the program were in attendance to share how the cybersecurity and intelligence studies programs and new facilities at the College are preparing them for emerging careers and to live lives of meaning and value. They will be able to make a difference for their country in heightened areas of awareness, especially in the wake of computer hackers recently attacking a U.S. gas pipeline and the world’s largest meat supplier.

“Cybersecurity is one of the most important careers in modern times. Almost all data is stored online today, which makes all personal information susceptible to people who may try to access it,” said Kai Wagner, a cybersecurity major at Notre Dame. “This is one of the reasons cybersecurity was an easy choice for me. I want to help keep the personal information of individuals away from the hands of the wrong people.”

Lindsey Benko said the intelligence studies program was a fit for her interest in puzzles, mind games and mysteries and enrolling as part of the Notre Dame family of security programs and now simulation labs “is one of the best decisions I have made.”

“I am finding how crucial intelligence can be to the government and the private sector. I have gained an understanding into the reality of the threats that are posed and how intelligence can mitigate these threats. This fuels my passion to enter this field,” she said. “I want to do my part and contribute to combatting threats whether foreign or domestic.”

Career-based Learning

The fields of cybersecurity and intelligence are expected to grow exponentially in the next ten years, and Notre Dame is focused on competitive student success in these sectors. Faculty have developed career pathway resources with this in mind, including mandatory internships and advisement, in addition to financial literacy modules to prepare students for top jobs in the field. Students can expect to apply to government agencies or in the private sector after graduation.

“These new programs enable us to expand enrollment and serve the community in a different way. What makes the classrooms special is their use of simulation technology,” Florentine Hoelker, Ph.D., Dean of Online & Graduate Programs, said.

The Title III grant was awarded to the College in October of 2019, with the intent to strengthen the academic offerings of the institution and provide educational opportunities for low-income and first-generation students. The final phase of this comprehensive project will see a forthcoming tech lab built in the Center.

“These new programs will attract students who want to make a difference in the world,” Beth Ford, Vice President for Enrollment, says. “We want students who are values-based, mission-driven, and want to make a significant impact on society.”

Senatorial Citation

Notre Dame was presented a Senatorial Citation from the State of Ohio on behalf of State Senator Kenny Yuko, who represents the 25th district consisting of parts of Cuyahoga and Lake counites, during the formal grand opening for the College’s Center for Intelligence and Security Studies.

“This achievement demonstrates the steadfast dedication of Notre Dame College to its students,” Yuko said in reading the decree.

“Your commitment to providing career-focused, liberal arts education is highly commendable. Thus, you will continue to build upon your success and advance your mission in the future,” the proclamation stated. “Thus, with sincere pleasure, I commend Notre Dame College on the opening of the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies, and salute you for your excellent work in Northeast Ohio.”

Ken Stasiak, principal of RSM US LLP and chair of the Notre Dame Cybersecurity Advisory Committee, also addressed the invitation-only group of about 30 in Regina Chapel prior to the ribbon-cutting and lab demonstration. RSM US LLP is a member of the global accounting network RSM International.

In addition to others from RSM US LLP, professionals from the the Defense Accounting Service and Synack Red Team, national technical security experts, were in attendance. Several FBI agents and a representative of the Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Emergency Management Agency also were present for the event, along with Sean Hardy, a member of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees, and John Betchkal, an emeritus trustee of the College.

Multi-media Attention

Notre Dame’s Center for Intelligence and Security studies and the College’s degree programs in cybersecurity, intelligence studies and emergency management were featured on WOIO Channel 19 News Cleveland: “Northeast Ohio college trains students to fight cybersecurity threats as cyberattacks increase.”

The video and article, featuring Sharee Dorsey, a cybersecurity specialist and adjunct professor at Notre Dame, is available online at

May 2021


About Notre Dame College

Notre Dame College is a private, Catholic, liberal arts college in South Euclid committed to teaching students how to make a good living and live a good life. Founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame in 1922, the college offers bachelor’s degrees in 30 disciplines plus a variety of master’s degrees, certification programs and continuing and professional development programs for adult learners on campus and online. For more information, visit