The University of Colorado Colorado Springs on Monday unveiled its cybersecurity education center, named for a local philanthropist, entrepreneur and UCCS alumnus.
The Kevin W. O’Neil Cybersecurity Education and Research Center, made possible by a $3 million gift from the 1989 UCCS graduate, was christened in an outdoor naming and ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new building on North Nevada Avenue, just south of the university’s main campus.
University of Colorado President Todd Saliman and UCCS Chancellor Venkat Reddy were among a host of guests that included local military, education and business leaders.
The center will provide research and training capabilities that will allow graduates to hit the ground running as they enter the rapidly expanding field of cybersecurity, Reddy said.
“Advancements in engineering have created entirely new fields,” Reddy said. “Now, cybersecurity has become one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. The opportunities available to talented graduates are endless, and so is the potential for this new space.”
The chancellor said the new center will also help the university secure much-needed research grants and arm students with the tools they need to protect the country from cyber threats.
“For many years, we have wanted to house innovative cybersecurity research, education and partnerships under one roof,” Reddy said. “It is thanks to the incredible generosity of a UCCS alumnus that we are able to realize a new phase of this vision.”
O’Neil has maintained a robust relationship with the university since he graduated from the College of Business more than three decades ago. In 2015, he launched the Catalyst Campus for Technology and Innovation in downtown Colorado Springs. In addition to creating a space for businesses to connect with the aerospace and defense industries, the Catalyst Campus has created more than 1,200 jobs and generated over $270 million in local economic impact, according to university officials.
O’Neil said he hopes the new center and the Catalyst Campus will help make Colorado Springs a national player in the cybersecurity field for decades to come.
“It’s about the future, not about today,” he said. “We have to have a voice and an insight into where the Department of Defense is going, where cyber is going, and we have to be a part of that conversation on a national level.”
When asked what it felt like to see his name on a building at a university where he once studied, O’Neil smiled and shook his head.
“It’s a little weird,” he said. “But it’s also humbling. I’m very grateful that the university wants to be a part of my world. I definitely want to be a part of theirs.”