Interview with Pete Van Ness about the Online Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Management at the University of New Haven

About Pete Van Ness: Pete Van Ness is the Program Coordinator for the Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Leadership at the University of New Haven’s Pompea College of Business. As Program Coordinator, Mr. Van Ness is responsible for identifying faculty to develop and deliver courses, overseeing curriculum development and course content, and serving as an advisor to the students in the program. In addition, as a Lecturer in the College of Business, Mr. Van Ness teaches several key courses in the MS program, including MGMT 6663 – Leadership and Team Building, MGMT 6668 – Leading Organizational Strategy and Change, MGMT 6815 – Strategic Management and Governance of Information Assets, and MGMT 6805 – Global Perspectives on Cybersecurity Operations.

Mr. Van Ness earned his undergraduate degree in 1995 from the United States Coast Guard Academy, and is currently a retired Coast Guard Captain. He commanded two ships and two shore units during his 24.5-year career. He also ran the Coast Guard’s Business Intelligence Program, served as the Coast Guard Cyber Commander’s Chief of Staff, and led the Coast Guard’s IT Infrastructure command. From 2006-2009, Mr. Van Ness served as a Presidential Communications Officer and Presidential Response Officer and had the opportunity to travel with President Bush and President Obama on numerous foreign visits and international summits, providing a full suite of secure voice and data capabilities.

After his military retirement, he worked for Akima, an Alaska Native Corporation, as a Senior Program Manager leading a large IT Operations and Support contract for the Drug Enforcement Administration. He holds a Master of Science in Information Leadership with a Cyber Security Leader Concentration from the National Defense University, and a Master of Science in Information Systems Management from George Mason University.

Of his past leadership experience and current role as Program Coordinator and advisor to students of the MS in Cybersecurity Management and Leadership, Mr. Van Ness says, “As a military officer, leadership and mentorship are always a top priority. I have over two decades of experience advising, mentoring, and coaching junior enlisted and junior officers on career plans, educational opportunities, and personal and professional development. I look forward to advising a growing student body of business professionals interested in cybersecurity management and leadership.”

Interview Questions

[] Could you please provide an overview of the University of New Haven’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Leadership, and how it is structured? May we have more information about how this program prepares students to shape corporate policy and business strategy through effective cyber risk management?

[Mr. Van Ness] New Haven’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Leadership curriculum was developed in 2020 and courses are continually being updated. We aggregate best practices in leadership, management and cybersecurity, and put them in context of current events and recent cyber incidents. Emerging technology and complexity of cyber attacks can be overwhelming, so the curriculum provides actionable, business oriented approaches to cyber leadership. We inject practical experience and knowledge into courses through our industry experts who serve as curriculum developers and adjunct professors.

We create business professionals that can lead in a world full of technology by training graduates who are bilingual in business leadership and information security. Our students are prepared to serve as executive leaders who can translate and communicate business vision, strategy and goals clearly and effectively to their business operations workforce and their IT/cybersecurity risk management teams.

Course Sequence for MS Cybersecurity Management and Leadership:

  1. MGMT 6663 – Leadership and Team Building
    • Delivers Masters level underpinning in leadership theory, models, concepts, and best practices. Incorporates cybersecurity case studies and technology, information, and security themes.
  2. MGMT 6815 – Strategic Management and Governance of Information Assets
    • Delivers a Masters level foundation in successful information leadership, information asset security, and a growing awareness of cyberspace and cybersecurity.
  3. MGMT 6657 – Cyber Risk Management
    • Cybersecurity planning and leadership decisions always involve risk decisions. This course builds the foundational understanding of risk based decision making and proactive risk management planning necessary for synthesis of ideas in following courses.
  4. INVS 6652 – Network security, data protection, and telecommunications
    • Provides foundational understanding of network security techniques and processes. People, processes, and technology work together to protect essential data and support IT systems. Cybersecurity is a combination of technical implementation, policy, and engaged leadership.
  5. MGMT 6810 – Cybersecurity Incident Detection and Response
    • Builds upon basic understanding of leadership, risk management, information technology, and cybersecurity to begin the processes of analyzing, planning, and developing cybersecurity threat detection, vulnerability mitigation, and incident response techniques.
  6. MGMT 6820 – Incident and Critical Event Communication
    • Builds upon basic understanding of leadership, risk management, information technology, and cyber threats & vulnerabilities in developing organizational communications protocols, processes, and platforms for internal and external messaging, and critical information dissemination.
  7. MGMT 6805 – Global Perspectives on Cybersecurity Operations
    • Broadens understanding and awareness of the global cyber domain and cyber leadership by introducing and synthesizing international cybersecurity issues. Students also discuss nation state perspectives on cyber and information security that impact private and public sector organizations.
  8. MGMT 6668 – Leading Organizational Strategy and Change
    • Capstone lead-in step 1: Now that students have an understanding of cybersecurity technologies and practices, leadership techniques, effective communication, cyber risk management, and information governance, they will apply this understanding to formulating and communicating strategy, organizational intent, managing change, and delivering organizational outcomes. Leading a successful cybersecurity program requires the ability to manage change and drive strategic priorities through comprehensive planning and successful crisis management.
  9. MGMT 6825 – Contemporary Issues in Cybersecurity
    • Capstone lead-in step 2: Students apply knowledge and skills developed throughout the program to a variety of contemporary technology, political, legal, and social issues (i.e. privacy, civil liberties, innovation, and international norms of behavior) found in current research, news, and current events.
  10. MGMT 6830 – Cybersecurity Strategic Planning Capstone
    • This course brings it all together, allowing students to apply all they have learned in a real-world organization, with mentorship from practicing cybersecurity leaders.

Our business oriented cyber leadership program delivers an innovative educational experience focused on leading people and managing cyber activities in a technology driven world. Our curriculum, course developers, and instructors align their content with the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Cybersecurity Workforce Framework, NIST Special Publication 800-181. “This is a nationally focused resource that categorizes and describes cybersecurity work. It establishes a common lexicon that describes cybersecurity work and workers regardless of where or for whom the work is performed. The NICE Framework applies across public, private, and academic sectors.

[] How is cybersecurity as a field evolving to meet the needs of contemporary information systems, both nationally and globally? How does the University of New Haven’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Leadership equip students with the knowledge and skills to meet these ever-changing needs? On a related note, how do cyber security and information technology intersect with fields such as computer science, business, public policy, engineering, and public health?

[Mr. Van Ness] We live in a technology driven world where almost every industry, organization and activity is now dependent on information systems and the networks that connect them. Information has far surpassed most tangible resources as a high value asset. Businesses, government agencies, even non-profit organizations invest in technology to store, share, and integrate their data into valuable information, and they need to protect their data, their intellectual property and their reputations. They must also comply with a growing list of regulations and laws relating to privacy and consumer protection centered on data.

Leaders across all industries and professions need to educate themselves on cybersecurity if they are going to manage the growing cyber risks that come by leveraging existing information systems, protecting aging information infrastructure, and integrating new business processes and capabilities delivered by the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and machine analytics (A.I.).

[] How does the University of New Haven’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Leadership prepare students to take their CISSP and CISM certification exams? What is the importance of these professional certifications in the cybersecurity industry, and what key concepts and skills do students learn in this program that optimally prepare them to earn these credentials?

[Mr. Van Ness] Our program is designed to provide students the strong foundation and preparation for an independent study/review prior to the completion of the Certified Information System Security Professional (CISSP) exam and/or the Certified Information Security Manager (CISM). The key topics in each of these certifications are incorporated throughout the Cybersecurity Management and Leadership curriculum. While we are not a certification preparation course and do not provide testing for these certifications, students will be well prepared for the certification exams with individual review and study.

CISSP and CISM are highly respected and often required certifications across the Cybersecurity and Information Assurance workforce. In particular, DoD Cyber Workforce requirements (DoD 8570 Baseline) require CISSP or CISM for many senior level Cyber positions (e.g. IAT Level III, IAM Level III, IASAE Level II, etc.).

[] The University of New Haven’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Leadership can be completed 100% online. What online technologies does this program use to facilitate interactions between course faculty and students? Are classes primarily asynchronous, synchronous, or a combination of both?

[Mr. Van Ness] The core curriculum is delivered in condensed mini-terms (two courses per traditional semester – Fall, Spring, Summer). Courses are organized in weekly asynchronous modules. Most courses are between 6 and 8 modules, depending on University schedules and academic calendars. The online learning environment is delivered through an online Learning Management System called Canvas. Canvas is very versatile and flexible, allowing integration of multiple forms of digital content, as well as integration of Zoom and external resources from the Internet. While the program is delivered in an asynchronous format, there will be multiple opportunities to engage in real time with professors, mentors and guest speakers from industry.

[] For their final graduation requirement, students of the University of New Haven’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Leadership complete a Cybersecurity Strategic Planning Capstone. May we have more information on this Capstone requirement, the steps students take to complete it, and the kinds of faculty support they receive during their work?

[Mr. Van Ness] The Capstone course integrates cybersecurity strategies and policies in a dynamic environment from the perspective of a cybersecurity executive within an organization. This course requires students to engage in cybersecurity program and business continuity planning for an organization through the review, revision, creation and integration of governance, risk management, communications, operations, and incident management. Under the guidance of a Capstone faculty advisor and a volunteer industry mentor, students will engage in evidenced-based practices, to study and evaluate live client cybersecurity issues.

Learning Outcomes:

  • Assess the cybersecurity environment of an organization employing techniques and strategies from the key functional cybersecurity management and leadership areas (people, technology, and strategy)
  • Analyze cybersecurity challenges facing an organization and provide feasible and effective solutions
  • Present conclusions and recommendations that are understandable, defendable, concise, and that use appropriate tools of analysis

Students’ Final Capstone projects must demonstrate mastery of:

  • Cybersecurity frameworks and analytical assessments
  • Strategic management of cybersecurity risks
  • Threat analysis and resolution, including executive level communication plans
  • Cybersecurity strategy that considers evolving threats and emerging technologies

[] What role does faculty mentorship play in the University of New Haven’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Leadership? Independent of faculty instruction and support, what career development resources and academic services are available to students of this program? How can students make the most of these mentorship opportunities and support systems while in the program?

[Mr. Van Ness] Professors and lecturers are cyber leadership professionals with extensive industry, government, and military experience. They are not only technical experts in their field, but also experienced leaders with years of experience mentoring and leading. Beyond their roles as course instructors, they offer networking opportunities across a wide variety of organizations in search of cyber professionals.

The Career Development Center provides its full array of services, resources, and workshops for online graduate students including career readiness workshops, resume review/editing, mock interviews, individual online appointments, resource guides, and employer recruiting events.

[] For students who are interested in the University of New Haven’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Leadership, what advice do you have for submitting a competitive application?

[Mr. Van Ness] Strong academic performance in a college environment is important. However, well-rounded candidates with demonstrated success in academics, extracurricular activities, and/or professional work are best suited to succeed in this program of study. This is a business oriented cyber leadership program focused on leadership, governance, strategy, policy, risk management and communication. Some technical aptitude is necessary to be successful, and should be demonstrated in student applications, but Engineering, Computer Science, IT Management, and Cybersecurity oriented degrees are not required to successfully apply and be accepted into this Masters program. This is a Cyber Leadership program designed for business professionals.

Our goal is to make cybersecurity strategy, risk decisions, and planning accessible to leaders across multiple specialties, including medical administration, program management, business development leaders, government acquisition professionals, critical infrastructure managers, etc. Strong letters of recommendation from established professional sources (academic or industry) are important. Additionally, the quality and focus of student statements are heavily weighted. Students should ensure they explain why they desire to pursue an M.S. in Cyber Leadership.

Student cohorts are diverse, including international students, new graduates, and long-time professionals well into their current career. Our goal is to provide an opportunity for students to learn from one another, as well as their professors.

This program is very well suited for military students to participate from any region of the world, in any time zone. The asynchronous delivery allows students flexibility to complete the lectures, reading and class work in the way that best fits their schedule.

[] What makes the University of New Haven’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Leadership unique, and a particularly strong graduate degree option for students? From faculty expertise and mentorship to the quality of the coursework, what are some standout aspects of the program that you would like prospective students to know about?

[Mr. Van Ness] Every business, government, and military leader must consider cybersecurity in their overall strategy, daily operations, and risk management plan. The University of New Haven, Pompea College of Business, offers a well-balanced Masters program that delivers an educational opportunity for students to expand their understanding of business management and leadership theory but apply it in the cyber domain. Not only does the program provide a key professional stepping stone for individuals interested in careers in cybersecurity, network security, and IT service management, it also provides a technical, operational and strategic understanding of cybersecurity for business professionals across a wide variety of professions and specialties.

We live in an information-driven world, and every day new and more complex technologies are introduced into our daily operational environment. Every professional, every leader will benefit from a solid knowledge base and in-depth understanding of the cyber domain and how to manage risks while taking advantage of all that technology and big data have to offer.

New Haven’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Leadership offers courses that not only look at technical and academic aspects of cybersecurity, but also explore internal and external communication best practices, global issues, international norms, while offering opportunities to engage with organizations, companies, and government agencies facing the very challenges the students are studying. Cybersecurity is a rapidly evolving profession and access to ongoing real world challenges and discussion of current events are key aspects of each course in the program.

Thank you, Mr. Van Ness, for your excellent insight into the University of New Haven’s Master of Science in Cybersecurity Management and Leadership program!