New national security academy draws positive reactions

At the University of Maryland, students pursuing careers in national security just got some great news.

UMD’s College Park and Baltimore locations will be teaming up to create a new Maryland Academy for Innovation in National Security.

The academy will bring together myriad organizations from the two universities, including the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), the Maryland Cybersecurity Center (MC2), the Center for the Advanced Study of Language (CASL) and the Schools of Law, Medicine and Business.

“The idea would be to have a ‘one-stop-shop’ where the FBI can come and learn about all these relevant resources or capabilities on campus,” START executive director William Braniff said.

University President Wallace Loh said that the academy could make a strong case for an FBI headquarters in nearby Greenbelt, Maryland.

“The FBI needs to be in close proximity to the two major research institutions in the region — College Park and Baltimore,” Loh said at the event’s Sept. 3 press conference, which was held near the Greenbelt metro stop to highlight the area’s accessibility.

Landover and Springfield, Virginia are also under consideration for the new headquarters, according to The Washington Post.

Braniff, who unveiled the academy at the press conference earlier this month, agreed, adding that the Greenbelt FBI location sets itself apart from the other options thanks to its convenience, environment and proximity to the new Maryland Academy.

“The other sites just don’t hold a candle to that combination of attractive features,” he said.

The academy could forge a strong relationship between the university and the FBI, Braniff said.

“It has a great benefit for the FBI and other national security organizations, because they certainly want access to talent pools like the kind we have here at Maryland, so if we can help create a recruitment pipeline, I think it’s a win-win,” he added.

Although MC2’s role isn’t clear just yet, director Jonathan Katz said via email that the group will be “happy to share our expertise in cybersecurity” with the academy.

Braniff said that the organization’s founding is particularly timely.

“We are about to lose the 9/11 generation of professionals who are coming up on their 20 years of service and might move on to a second career or retirement of some kind, and the Maryland Academy can also help to serve as a mechanism to capture all that experiential knowledge that they’ve gained over their careers,” he said. “That could be one of the lasting legacies of this cooperation.”

Professor D.J. Rosenthal, a national security professional who teaches an honors seminar course at UMD entitled “National Security Dilemmas,” said that the academy will provide an important integrative approach to national security education.

“The study of national security is really one field, and it’s helpful to have a single place where people can go to learn about all sorts of different issues focusing on national security.”

Freshman psychology and criminology major Noah Dulski, who wishes to pursue a career in national security, said he’s optimistic about his future at the university thanks to this new partnership. 

“I came here for it [national security], and then the second I come here they start building up off it. It’s really cool,” he said. “Having those opportunities and those resources helps a lot.”

Photo by Christine Condon

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