MURRAY, Ky. – Murray State University received two awards at the Kentucky Association for Economic Development’s (KAED) annual Kentucky Economic Forum in Covington in late October.
First, the university earned the Technology Award presented by GIS Web Tech.
Murray State, through its Cyber Education and Research Center, provides technology and cybersecurity leadership across the commonwealth, as it has done for more than two decades. The Cyber Center provides outreach and support to residents, businesses, local governments and state organizations.
“As the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Program of Distinction for Cybersecurity, the Cyber Center supports entities statewide with technology and cybersecurity expertise including government, educators and economic developers,” said Dr. Michael Ramage, director of Murray State’s Cyber Education and Research Center. “For me, this award provides validation that we are fulfilling that important responsibility.”
Examples of current and former outreach provided by the Cyber Center at Murray State include:
Co-founder of the Technology Council of West Kentucky, a regional technology advocacy organization for information technology (IT) in west Kentucky
Co-founder of GroWest, a regional technology-based entrepreneurship organization
Higher education lead for the PISCES Project, providing free cybersecurity network monitoring for local governments
The annual Security Matters conference, the most prominent regional security-focused conference in west Kentucky, held since 2005
The annual IT Matters conference held in Paducah since 2016
Tech Mania, a high school IT competition that includes IT and cybersecurity competitions
TEN @ 10, a weekly online video series highlighting various cybersecurity topics since 2021
A monthly column on cyber-related topics in the Four Rivers Business Journal since 2014
Cyber Bytes, a regular segment on WKMS, which discusses various cybersecurity topics
Speeches at dozens of conferences, training sessions and events, including the Kentucky Institute for Economic Development since 2020
Support for local government and business organizations on topics such as cybersecurity and broadband as needed to ensure communities continue to grow and thrive in Kentucky
Murray State has also received multiple grants over the last two decades, including several from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and, most recently, a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Labor to support workforce development in creating a cybersecurity analyst certificate program. The University provides technology and cybersecurity education at the undergraduate and graduate levels via degrees and certificates through its designated Center for Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CD) by the National Security Agency and DHS. Recently, Murray State’s program was recognized for its community outreach, ranking fourth in the nation among CAE-CD schools for their community outreach during 2022. Visit murraystate.edu/cyber to learn more about the cyber programs, including the new certificate program.
“As the Program of Distinction for more than 25 years, our Cybersecurity program and Cyber Center attribute our success to the unwavering focus on our core tenants of curriculum with a real-world focus, strong faculty with practical experience, and extensive outreach to education, industry and government partners,” said Ramage. “The surge of success in our program not only underscores the escalating significance of cybersecurity and technology but also mirrors our steadfast dedication to delivering top-notch education and statewide outreach in this critical field.”
Second, Chris Wooldridge, director of the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Development (CEED), won Commonwealth Champion for Economic Development.
“I truly am appreciative to have received this award from the Kentucky Association for Economic Development,” said Wooldridge. “President and Chief Executive Officer of KAED Haley McCoy, as well as her team and her board of directors, do outstanding work in supporting growth in the Commonwealth and I am honored to have been recognized by them for this award.”
Murray State has always been an activist and catalyst for economic growth and prosperity in the region and beyond through all of its academic and outreach programs.
“I see the work being done through the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Development to be part of that natural growth of the University in identifying opportunities and being the university of excellence for support of our students, graduates and communities, as well as for business and industry,” said Wooldridge.
Wooldridge said this award is a reflection of the work Murray State is doing and will do for many years to come. He gave an example of one of the CEED’s economic development projects:
Dr. Simone Silva, a professor in the Master of Science in Economic Development program, instructs economic development students in the application of economic development tools for their profession. She also uses those tools in an outreach capacity in developing impact reports to aid elected officials and communities in the evaluation and recruitment of business and industry. Silva recently completed such a report for the Blue Oval/SK project in Glendale, Kentucky. Wooldridge said this is just one of the many projects he and his department are so proud of as a team to have been able to contribute.
“Any success I have enjoyed in this role resides in large part to the support, as well as the trust, I have received from President Bob Jackson, Provost Tim Todd, Dean David Eaton and Chair Narine Badasyan to execute outreach and engagement and to do so prudently and effectively,” said Wooldridge. “Without their trust and support, I could not do what I do. Also, I am blessed to enjoy excellent working relationships with so many individuals in the economic development space.”
Wooldridge said he works diligently to build relationships and gain trust so that their partners know that Murray State can be depended on to deliver throughout the Commonwealth, whether it is providing education and training at seminars and conferences, delivering economic impact studies and other support to communities and organizations, as well as working one on one to tackle challenges and maximize opportunities.
Learn more about Murray State University’s Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Development at murraystate.edu/ceed.